In a statement on Tuesday, tournament organizers said, “Although we have tried to bring something positive and cheer, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone returns to their families and loved ones during these troubled times.”
It is unclear when and where the cricket tournament, in which the world’s best cricketers take part on big money contracts, will resume.
The number of coronavirus cases in India has now exceeded 20 million as the country reported 357,229 cases on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health.
Before Tuesday, the organizers had pushed the tournament forward despite the withdrawal of several high-profile players and calls for a postponement.
But with cases across the country and hospitals running out of oxygen and essential medicines, the game’s administrators have been pressured to do more.
The organizers met with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) this week for an emergency meeting and decided unanimously to suspend the tournament.
“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of players, support staff and other participants involved in organizing the IPL. This decision was made with the safety, health and wellbeing of all concerned in mind,” the statement said .
“I’ve seen many lives lost”
According to Forbes, the IPL is the sixth most important sports league in the world after the NFL, the Champions League and the four largest national football competitions in Europe.
Suspending or canceling the tournament, some argued, would create economic and social costs.
“There is an entire ecosystem being sustained through the IPL … that is making a living for a few million Indians, if not more,” Indian cricket journalist Boria Majumdar told CNN Sport before the suspension was announced.
“We’re talking about a huge economic system here. By stopping the IPL, what are you doing? You’re plunging the nation into more darkness, talking about more debt and more pandemic.”
India’s Broadcast Audience Research Council found that viewership increased 15% in the opening week of the IPL last season. 269 million viewers watched seven games on 21 channels.
Even so, some fans found it uncomfortable that the tournament continued before news of the suspension came on Tuesday.
“I’m not feeling well. I’ve seen many lives lost,” Oswald Dsouza, 55, an avid cricket fan from Bangalore, told CNN Sport last week.
“On the one hand you have people who are losing their precious lives and on the other you are talking about entertainment and commercial cricket.
“Yeah, I love IPL too, but lives are ultimately important. What’s the point in going on with IPL when we’ve lost so many lives?”
Now that the postponement has been confirmed, many overseas players currently in India for the tournament could try to fly home.
However, they could be quarantined for weeks as countries around the world are restricting travel to and from India while cases remain so high.
In Australia, anyone who was in India 14 days before Monday is banned from entry under the country’s Biosecurity Act, including Australian citizens.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied the arrival ban was racist and downplayed the chance of jail time for those who break the rules.
On Monday around 9,000 Australians were registered with the government in India who wanted to return to Australia.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) told CNN Sport that it is in close contact with its players and staff in India as arrangements have been made for their return.
“The ECB understands the BCCI’s decision to postpone competition for the safety and wellbeing of those involved, and thanks BCCI for its commitment to doing everything in its power to ensure the safe passage of everyone involved in the competition.” “Read a statement from the ECB.
“Our thoughts remain with the people of India in these challenging times.”