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Coronavirus Scare: No spectators in stadiums for IPL 2020 matches in Maharashtra as state bans ticket sales


Coronavirus Scare: No spectators in stadiums for IPL 2020 matches in Maharashtra as state bans ticket sales
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On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. Simultaneously, an elderly couple from Mumbai was tested positive for coronavirus, taking the tally of infected individuals in the state to 11. With the novel virus continuing to spread in the state, the two-month-long Indian Premier League starting on March 29 also has been affected.

The Maharashtra government, which discussed the outbreak on Wednesday announced a ban on sales of IPL tickets in the state.

“BCCI is ready to hold the IPL tournament without an audience. It means there will be no sale of tickets. However, we are yet to receive any official request. We will consider it after receiving. If necessary, the IPL matches can be postponed,” chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said.

While Thackeray, as well as health minister Rajesh Tope, are in favour of not holding the matches, no final decision is taken on the issue. With the number of positive cases in India crossing the 60+ mark on Wednesday, there is a looming fear that the contagion will spread.

“There are spectators for many matches being played in the country currently. That said, we are monitoring the situation. The IPL governing council is meeting on Saturday (Mar 14). That’s when we will look at all the factors and take a decision,” IPL chairman Brijesh Patel told Hindustan Times.

With the ban on ticket sales in the state, the encounter between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai on March 29 might happen in an empty stadium. This is set to directly impact Mumbai Indians, whose home matches are usually played before packed houses in the 33,000 capacity Wankhede Stadium. The government decision also overlooks stadiums in Navi Mumbai and Pune, which rules out shifting the venue within the state.

In the meantime, other states scheduled to host IPL matches are yet to take a  call on how to conduct the matches. Surprisingly, the three-match ODI series between India and South Africa, to be played in Dharamshala (March 12), Lucknow (March 15) and Kolkata (March 18), is going ahead without any restrictions.

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