COVID-19: Residents Urge CM Thackeray to Move IPL Games Out of Wankhede

COVID-19: Residents Urge CM Thackeray to Move IPL Games Out of Wankhede

With Mumbai’s coronavirus cases seeing a rapid surge, there has been some criticism about the BCCI’s decision to conduct one leg of the Indian Premier League at the Wankhede Stadium. Residents who live nearby have now written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, asking for the scheduled matches to be moved out of the city.

Although this year’s IPL will be played behind closed doors across multiple venues inside bio-bubbles, residents of Marine Drive feel this could lead to a further increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.

“Though spectators are not allowed for the IPL matches, the residents fear similar crowds could gather at the stadium, near where many buildings are sealed due to Covid cases,” local resident Asit Shroff said. 

A report by TOI states that a large crowd had gathered outside a popular hotel in Nariman Point when some of the cricketers arrived ahead of their first games in Mumbai.  

Shroff’s letter comes on behalf of the Marine Drive Residents' Association and goes on to ask the Chief Minister to relocate the games to a non-residential region. “The state government is compelled to restrict religious and other social activities like marriages, deaths, etc. and contrary to this, in these difficult times, IPL cricket matches of such magnitude lasting over several days is permitted,” the letter went on to say.

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“Every year during the matches, there are parking restrictions, which make it difficult for the senior residents and is unacceptable in these times of Covid,” another resident added.

A total of 10 matches are scheduled to be played at the city’s Wankhede Stadium. The first match at the venue will take place on Saturday, April 10 between the Chennai Super Kings and the 2020 IPL runner-up, Delhi Capitals. The last scheduled match at the Wankhede is on April 25 between CSK and Royal Challengers Bangalore. 

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the organizers of the world’s richest cricketing tournament to conduct games behind closed doors. Though the BCCI had hinted that some spectators could likely be allowed in the second half of the league stages, it’s seeming more and more unlikely now given that COVID-19 cases have seen an uptick in almost every state. 

The IPL Governing Council had previously announced Hyderabad as a backup option in case games have to be moved out of Mumbai. Due to the format of this year’s IPL, no team will have a home advantage. Mumbai Indians start their campaign in the tournament opener against RCB at Chennai’s Chepauk Stadium on Friday, April 9. 

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