IPL franchises have been given detailed instructions of what they are required to do in the UAE to create a bio-bubble and keep their players and support staff safe. The 2020 IPL will take place in the UAE from Sep 19 to Nov 10 and will take place in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
Hotel Accommodation – Big Challenge
The 2020 IPL will be the longest IPL tournament with the 8 team format and will last for 53 days. However, players will be flying in early to train and prepare for the IPL which means that they are going to be in the UAE for 60 days or more.
The BCCI SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) has made it mandatory for IPL franchises to find separate hotels for their teams. They have the liberty to choose between Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah but they will have to ensure that whichever hotel they book, it must have a separate wing for IPL players along with a separate AC unit than the rest of the other guests.
The SOPs will require players to spend a lot of time in their rooms due to the threat of COVID-19. Players will initially be confined till they clear all COVID-19 tests and once the IPL stars they will have to follow bio-bubble protocols or face penalties laid down by the BCCI.
The BCCI has permitted WAGs to join the players in the UAE but has made it clear that they will not be able to travel on the same bus nor will they be able to leave the bio-bubble. The players and their families will not be allowed to eat in restaurants at the hotel in order to avoid coming into contact with other guests. They will have to order room service throughout their stay.
Once an IPL game is over, the players and match officials have been requested to go straight to the hotel, shower and remain in the hotel. This is quite different to what usually happens during IPL games where the players party and spend a lot of time at nightclubs and restaurants.
Where Are The Teams Staying?
Most of the IPL franchises are thinking about avoiding 5 star hotels as it is going to be a difficult feat to follow all of the SOPs laid down by the BCCI due to the amount of other guests staying at the hotel. They are looking to either book private apartments or resorts which will make it easier for them to implement the SOPs.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have opted to stay in Dubai. The Sunrisers are looking at booking a golf resort which will enable their players to have a round of golf during the off-days. The BCCI has no problem with letting players on the golf course as this game is considered one of the few games where social distancing is easy to maintain.
The Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are looking to stay in Abu Dhabi as it is not as busy as Dubai. The Mumbai Indians are planning on renting out an entire apartment complex while KKR is looking at staying at the Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas in Abu Dhabi.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are also looking at staying in Dubai as they are keen on practicing at the ICC Academy in Dubai. However, there is no indication as of now as to whether they will look at renting out an apartment complex or a villa.
The SOPs make things very strict on both the IPL franchises and the players. There are bound to be challenges during this IPL, as players will have their freedom curtailed significantly which could impact their mental health and performance on the field.