Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju today welcomed the decision by the BCCI to defer the Indian Premier League 2020 till April 15. Speaking to the media at the Sports Authority of India headquarters in New Delhi after chairing a marathon meeting of its executive board, Rijiju said, “It's good that BCCI postponed IPL. It is in the interest of the nation. Health is a priority, it cannot be taken lightly.”
Rijiju's ministry had yesterday issued two advisories to all National Sports Federations, and particularly to the BCCI, saying that federations should avoid holding events given the prevailing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and that public gatherings should be avoided. “All NSFs have to follow the advisory in letter and spirit,” it said.
Rijiju also hailed the cancellation of the ongoing India-South Africa ODI series. “We have to ensure that financial implications are not more important than health concerns. Health precedes everything.”
The sports minister also clarified that the Indian players competing in top international tournaments or in Olympic qualifiers have no need to worry despite the Union government issuing travel advisory and visa bans. Badminton stars P.V. Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth are competing in the All England Open badminton championship. Sindhu is the only Indian singles player in the fray presently. They had expressed concerns over their return and possible quarantine.
“I spoke to Sindhu today and told her that all those players playing in important international events can continue to play. They have to follow the guidelines of the country they are in. As for quarantine, it is for players returning from countries specified by Government of India only.”
Some senior Indian team camps are going on despite the coronavirus concerns in some SAI centres. “All precautionary measures are being taken at these camps. I have asked SAI officials to be in touch with concerned officials at camps.”