The IPL is the latest major sporting franchise to tentatively relaunch in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, with the Indian Premier League 2020 tournament set to get underway on September 19th, this time in the United Arab Emirates under the full bio-secure bubble.
Most sports events, along with IPL 2020, are taking place behind closed doors, with social distancing measures and personal protective equipment and sanitation facilities available for players, coaching staff, officials and referees. All of the included must follow the measures and non-compliance will see harsh penalties.
But how will lockdown affect the mood and morale of the players, and in turn affect the on-field action? And how can fans still get involved, despite the lack of crowd attendance at matches? Let’s take a closer look.
Why the UAE?
India has become a major global hotspot for COVID 19, with more than 3.6 million infections and more than 64,000 deaths. Since UAE, on the other hand, has managed the outbreak extremely well, after a discussion with the government of the UAE, the BCCI came to an agreement and decided the tournament would be held between three locations: Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.
Most of the IPL franchises flew to the country on August 20th, after two mandatory tests for the virus. They will be strictly monitored and will have to live in a ‘bio-bubble’ for the entirety of the tournament.
The players and coaching staff are required to exist within a tightly controlled bio-bubble for the full length of their stay in the UAE.
Before they even get to the stadium to play, the protocol is detailed and severe. Some examples include; 7-day quarantine in an Indian hotel, followed by 14 days in Abu Dhabi (or one of the other cities), testing every 3 days, Hazmat suits for the flight – no food served on board, and the plane pre sanitized, no housekeeping or in-room services in any hotel (meals can still be ordered A La Carte from the restaurant but will be left outside the door of the room in disposable packaging).
All family members traveling with the teams must adhere to the same protocols, and there will be severe consequences for the intentional breaking of the rules. For accidental breaches, a further 7 days of isolation and continual testing will be mandatory. Teams will also be monitored by CCTV to check they are compliant.
How are supporters affected?
Obviously, fans of IPL cricket will be gutted that no crowds are allowed into the matches. But there is a sense of relief amongst supporters that the games will get underway despite all the difficulties and setbacks presented by the pandemic.
Extensive television coverage will ensure that fans won’t miss a single ball, and although the outcome of the games may be affected by the disruption. Spectators, die-hard fans, and bettors alike are already looking for the first-class bookies and hope the season goes off without a hitch.
As the long-awaited season is about to start, punters are making sure to find the most reliable bookies to hedge their bets on the result.
How will it affect play?
The big question most sports have faced since the spread of COVID 19. The lack of crowds means a lack of atmosphere, and there is no doubt that ripples of excitement, shared joy, or despair that thousands of avid fans generate affect the action on the field. And the teams will need to build spirit, morale, and energy under the most unusual of circumstances.
A Mumbai Indians official gave some details of their lockdown situation, stating that the players and staff have access to leisure and relaxation activities, with a pool, a room for video games, darts, and other games to rejuvenate between games.
While the changes to a routine may have some effect, in other sports we have seen how adaptable and professional competitors have been, so hopefully, it won’t take long for the action to hot up.