Proteas Tour Goes On; Audiences Shunned Amid Coronavirus Concerns

By Dhanu Delphi on March 12, 2020

The BCCI decided to proceed with the three-match ODI series between India and South Africa amidst growing coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. The Board was confident that the series would go on without any issue. Things, however, have changed dramatically in the last few days. Consequently, the BCCI has had to take some serious decisions.

First ODI Abandoned Due To Rain

South Africa took a risk when they decided to leave home and travel to India to play the ODI series. Most governments across the world have issued travel advisory bans but South Africa went ahead with the tour.

The first ODI which was scheduled to take place on March 12 in Dharamsala was abandoned without a ball being bowled. This has now changed the three match series into a two match series with the next match scheduled to take place on March 15 in Lucknow, followed by the third ODI on March 18 at the Eden Gardens.

No Fans Will Be Allowed Thanks To Coronavirus Concerns

While the first ODI at Dharamsala was open to fans, the BCCI has now decided to stop fans from attending the final two ODI games. The BCCI was forced to make the decision for closed stadium games to take place over growing concerns over COVID-19.

The Indian government made the decision and sent out a notice to all sporting organizations in the country such as the Indian Olympics Committee and the BCCI instructing them to prevent mass gathering from happening at sporting events. This was one of the major safety concerns taken by the Indian government to stop COVID-19 from spreading.

The Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) confirmed that they had received these instructions from the government and will follow the same for the ODI matches that are being hosted in their respective states.

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare decided to evoke the clauses found in the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 and advised the government to take these steps and send out instructions to prevent all public gatherings. The government notice was to cancel all sporting events which required a public gathering. If it wasn’t possible, the next best solution was to hold the sporting events but not allow fans to attend the event.

No Fans Will Impact Players And Boards   

The UPCA and CAB will be impacted financially. Both boards have stopped issuing any tickets once they received the notice that fans would not be allowed into the grounds. Fans who bought tickets to these games will now have to look at ways of getting the same reimbursed.

Eden Gardens has one of the biggest stadiums in India and was expected to have a packed house. The losses to both boards will be substantial; but given the growing concerns of the pandemic, they are taking it in stride.

This will also be the first time that Indian and South African cricketers will play in an empty stadium. Whenever a home game takes place, the sides are used to packed stadiums; which makes it electrifying for the players.

This time around it is going to be a very different experience and not something that the players will enjoy. Just recently, the NBA suggested playing games in empty stadiums. LeBron James, however, said he would prefer the NBA cancel all games than playing in front of empty stadiums.

It will be interesting to see how the players feel about playing in empty stadiums. We will have to wait till the second ODI is over to get their views!