BY BAIDURJO BHOSE
New Delhi: Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has made it clear that under present circumstances, the country should be ready for sporting events to be held behind closed doors and the first thing that comes to mind is the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League as the BCCI is looking at a September 25 to November 1 window for the same. And the board is clear that fan safety is the priority as rightly pointed out by the sports minister.
Speaking to IANS, a BCCI official said that it was obvious that the safety of the fans would be a priority whenever live sporting action returns in the country and cricket will be no different. He went on to add that gate money wouldn’t be the primary focus at this point in time and revenue generated from broadcasting the games should work fine.
“In these extraordinary times gate money is the least of anyone’s concerns. Fan safety obviously takes priority. When cricket happens, the broadcast revenue is the first chunk of revenue necessary for the BCCI and the state associations’ subsistence. Same is the case for the IPL.
“Nobody is going to say no to gate revenue, but no one in their right minds is going to give gate money preference over fan safety. Those who have organised matches, understand this basic tenet. Moreover, the Sports Minister has given a statement and he represents the government with regard to the sporting ecosystem in the country and one must take note of the same and understand the gravity of the situation,” the official said.
Rijiju on his part has made it clear that while sporting events will resume slowly as athletes have already been given the permission to start individual training, a call on the IPL would be taken by the government with an eye on the coronavirus pandemic. He also made it clear that sportspersons should be ready to play behind closed doors.
“In India, the government has to take a call and it will take a call depending on the situation. We cannot put health at risk just because we want to have a sporting event. Our focus is fighting COVID-19 and at the same time we will have to work a mechanism to get back to normalcy. It is difficult to confirm dates but I am sure we will have some kind of sporting events this year,” he told India Today.
“We have been advising that health and safety are top priorities and besides that we have to keep in mind guidelines issued by the home ministry and the guidelines issued by the local authorities. We have been planning to resume the events but before that we need to resume the practice and training. We cannot resume tournaments immediately.”