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India’s cricket league postponed as COVID crisis worsens

▶ Watch Video: India surpasses 20 million COVID-19 cases

India’s cricket league has postponed their season indefinitely as the country battles a worsening COVID-19 crisis, officials announced Tuesday

The Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPL GC), the pro league overseeing eight teams, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the sport’s governing body, unanimously decided to put off the 2021 season of the IPL, the most popular sports tournament in the country. 

“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL,” a statement said. “This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and wellbeing of all the stakeholders in mind.” 

“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the league added. 

The BCCI says it will work to safely fly players back to their home countries. As many as 57 foreign players, including 14 Australians, are currently stuck in India along with dozens of support staff, Reuters reported.  

IPL chairman Brijesh Patel told Reuters it was too early to say when the league could resume. It was originally scheduled to finish in a May 30 final in Ahmedabad. 

The tournament has an estimated brand value of $6.8 billion, according to Reuters. It was being played without live spectators to a huge TV audience, but was criticized for continuing while India’s healthcare system was on the brink of collapse. 

India hit a grim milestone on Tuesday, surpassing 20 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The virus-related death toll is above 200,000 in the country, but many suspect it’s much higher. 

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