New Delhi [India], Mar 13 (ANI): Union Minister and BJP leader Babul Supriyo on Friday said that he is hopeful that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) won't go ahead with the Indian Premier League (IPL) amidst coronavirus outbreak.
"World Health Organisation has declared coronavirus as a pandemic. Sports is very important but it cannot be at the cost of a health scare. IPL is a sport where people come in huge numbers, so I think and hope that IPL can be postponed," Supriyo told ANI outside the Parliament.
When asked whether IPL should be postponed or not, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor replied: "My personal opinion is that whenever a big event is scheduled, it is done to attract a big crowd, but if the necessary precautions cannot be taken, then it needs to be postponed. It is not a political matter. It should be done looking at the safety of people. If events can be postponed, then it should."
Earlier in the day, sources within the BCCI said that the board has invited all eight franchises for the IPL's governing council meeting on March 14.
Amidst coronavirus fears, the cricketing board has mainly two options-- either postpone IPL or play it behind closed doors.
The Central government has suspended all visas to India till April 15 as part of measures to contain the spread of the pandemic which has put IPL's scheduling in doubt.
The Sports Ministry has also asked all National Sports Federations (NSFs), including the BCCI to follow the Health Ministry's guidelines.
As per the guidelines issued, it has been asked to avoid large public gatherings.
Due to the visa regulation, sources within the IPL's governing council said that the foreign players would not be available for the tournament.
"Yes, foreign players will not be available. We will discuss this and other issues at our governing council meeting scheduled for March 14," a source in IPL governing council had told ANI.
The 13th edition of IPL is scheduled to commence from March 29, with Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings meeting at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai for the first match.
World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday had declared the coronavirus outbreak a 'pandemic' and expressed deep concern.
The coronavirus disease was first detected in Wuhan in China's Hubei province, in late December, and has since spread worldwide.
More than 127,000 people have been infected with COVID-19, with over 4,700 having died and 68,000 recovered. (ANI)