Coronavirus: IPL 2020 cancelled? No foreign players till April 15, Maharashtra bans ticket sales
Fresh restriction imposed by the Indian government to battle the coronavirus pandemic means no foreign player will take part in the first few matches of IPL season 13.
A top BCCI official has confirmed that no foreign player, including South Africans who are touring India at the moment, will not be available for the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises till April 15 due to fresh visa visa restrictions imposed by the Indian government to contain the deadly novel COVID-19 outbreak.
A closed-door IPL is a possiblity but the 60-odd foreigners form the spine of most franchises and it remains to be seen if the teams will be happy with the enforced restrction this close to the season which is scheduled to start on March 29.
"The foreign players who play in the IPL come under the Business Visa category. As per the government's directive, they can't come till April 15," a BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
The future of the IPL will be decided on March 14 at the event's Governing Council meeting in Mumbai.
"All decisions will be taken by the GC in Mumbai," the source said.
The government issued a fresh advisory with a ban on all existing foreign visas, except a few categories like diplomatic and employment, till April 15 in the wake of new positive cases of novel coronavirus in the country.
India has reported 60 positive cases in the outbreak which has led to over 4,000 deaths globally.
The "Details of Visas Granted by India" manual of the Ministry of Home Affairs states: "Foreign nationals who are engaged in commercial sports events in India on contract (including coaches) like Indian Premier League, Indian Soccer League, etc. with remuneration.
"They may be granted 'B-Sports' Visa with multiple entry facility for 13 appropriate period. Such a foreign national shall comply with all the statutory obligations like payment of taxes, etc."
The BCCI source said that the government's directive doesn't specifically exempt those with Business Visas.
"There is a clear distinction between employment Visa which has been granted exemption and the business visa. So it's better we dont take the risk."
Having the IPL played in empty stadiums is an option being explored but without foreign players, it will certainly lack the zing which makes it the most successful T20 event in the world.
"The Future Tours Program is such that if the IPL is postponed, most of the marquee foreign players might not be available as after this April-May, there isn't any window available. All other teams have bilateral commitments. At best, we can have it closed doors," the source said.
According to multiple reports, the Maharashtra government, which was all set to decide the first IPL matche of the season between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, has decided to ban the sale of IPL tickets in the state for the tournament. The government wants strict actions to prevent the pandemic and has demanded that the IPL be postponed or played behind closed doors.
(Inputs from PTI)