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Why UAE was ideal destination for IPL 2020

By SHEELA BHATT
August 22, 2020 11:48 IST
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'Unlike India and Sri Lanka there was no internal air travel needed.'
'For all 8 teams different hotels are available, a separate one for the broadcasting team too.'

IMAGE: Mumbai Indians Captain Rohit Sharma with wife Ritika Sajdeh and daughter Samaira Sharma at Mumbai airport on their way to Abu Dhabi for IPL 2020, August 21, 2020. Photograph: Kind courtesy Mumbai Indians/Instagram

In extraordinary circumstances created due to the Covid pandemic, the Indian Premier League, worth $6.8 billion in 2018, will be played in the United Arab Emirates.

In an exclusive chat with Senior Rediff.com Contributor Sheela Bhatt IPL Chairman Brijesh Patel explains why the UAE was the ideal destination for one of the world's biggest sporting events.

 

The Indian government and the UAE government was keenly interested and very helpful in staging the Indian Premier League tournament in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

We have taken utmost care in formulating Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) to conduct matches in view of Covid pandemic.

Our attention is on observing fully all Covid-related protocols during the tournament that will be held in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi from September 19.

All 8 teams have been sent detailed Covid protocols to be followed.

We have created a 'bio bubble' with the help of the UK-based company Restrata.

They have necessary experience as they created the bio-bubble for the two Test series in England -- against the West Indies and Pakistan.

No players will be allowed to meet anyone or go outside this bio bubble.

IMAGE: Delhi Capitals star Ravichandran Ashwin aboard a plane on his way to the UAE for IPL 2020.

Around 700 to 800 people, that consists of all IPL team members including players and management staff, will follow the SoPs given to them.

We have a large enough medical team and it will take care of them.

Every five days, throughout the tournament, all IPL players will be tested for Covid.

We want to play, but safely.

We have appointed an exclusive testing agency to handle the testing of players during the tournament.

We have ensured that Covid protocols during the entire tournament, at every step, are professionally taken care of.

For the first few games, there will be no crowds in the stadiums. No tickets will be sold to watch these matches in the stadiums.

As the tournament progresses, we will review the situation and take a call on allowing cricket fans in the stadiums.

RCB

IMAGE: Royal Challengers Bangalore players enroute to the UAE for IPL 2020. Photograph: RCB/Twitter

We were going to have the IPL tournament in India, but due to Covid and other travel restrictions we were having issues.

The Sri Lanka and UAE cricket boards showed interest in us. Both were good options for us.

But we selected the UAE as we found it ideal in Covid time.

They have infrastructure. They have quality grounds. Also, players can arrive in from different countries.

Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi have conducted matches before. They are experienced.

See, the UAE government is quite pro-active.

They were very helpful to us. They have interest in seeing that we are successful.

That matters a lot. We have seen their capabilities in the Asia Cup and the IPL before. They have accommodated us with many of their procedures.

The UAE government is helping us in medical facilities, health-related requirements. It is helping in managing logistics to handle the bio-bubble and in traveling facilities.

They have given us a waiver of quarantine for internal travel between cities. They are helpful and efficient.

Also, the Indian government was very supportive for the UAE tournament. After staging such a huge tournament it will help the UAE promote it as a sports destination for other sports from India.

The crucial point in our selection was that unlike India and Sri Lanka, there was no internal air travel needed.

For all 8 teams, different hotels are available, a separate one for the broadcasting team too.

All teams are separated. Within the hotels, players have different floors.

Most of the players have reached the UAE. They are in five day quarantine as the rule requires. They will have around three weeks to practice.

In the IPL this time, we are changing the Decision Review System regarding the no ball. We will have one more umpire sitting in the control room to take a decision about no balls.

Virat Kohli

IMAGE: RCB Captain Virat Kohli posted a photograph from the team hotel after touching down in the UAE. Photograph: RCB/Twitter

The Covid pandemic has impacted all businesses including cricket.

Why just businesses, it has impacted people so much.

However, things are improving and in these stressful times, people are very keen to see live matches.

Why think of losses in the IPL only? Everybody is losing. We have lost money too. But we are playing the game, that's important.

See, we should get used to these Covid times and its impact.

I believe people are fed up of watching soaps (soap operas) and Netflix serials.

Now, they want live and happening events. People are working from home, there are no schools and no colleges.

Cricket fans and their families are looking forward to the IPL. I am sure the IPL in the UAE will have bigger and better TV viewership.

Since it is not a long game, it's just a 20 over game, it is possible to manage both -- people's safety and play the fine game.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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