After the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Sri Lanka, New Zealand has offered to host the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 if the tournament can’t be held in India amid COVID-19 pandemic.
With the postponement of T20 World Cup 2020 inevitable, a window has popped up for IPL with the BCCI firing in on the September-November window for the tournament.
While the Indian cricket board’s first choice of host will be India but with the rising cases of coronavirus, chances look grim. India is the third in the list of countries with most COVID-19 cases behind Brazil and the USA.
Hosting IPL abroad a last resort
However, the board will only consider staging the IPL abroad as a last resort if there is no other way to salvage the tournament this year, according to top BCCI official
“Staging the event in India has to be the first choice but in case it is not safe to have it, then we will look at the overseas options.
After UAE and Sri Lanka, New Zealand has also offered to host the IPL,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on conditions out of control.
“We will sit down with all stakeholders (broadcaster, teams, etc) and take a call. The safety of the players is paramount. There will be no compromise on that,” the official said.
Time difference a major issue with New Zealand
India has a seven and half hour time difference with New Zealand which could affect the viewership of matches. Even apart from Hamilton and Auckland, venues in Wellington, Christchurch, Napier and Dunedin will need air travel.
The IPL has been held abroad in the past with the UAE and South Africa being the hosts of the tournament previously.
The 2009 edition was staged in South Africa due to general election and the UAE hosted a few matches in 2014 due to the same reason.
However, in 2019, the BCCI did schedule the IPL in India while avoiding clashes with poll dates in different states.
The UAE again is the front-runner to host the tournament if it happens overseas. Sri Lanka is a cost-effective option while New Zealand, which has been largely free from COVID-19, faces feasibility issues.
The BCCI official further said that the date of IPL Governing Council Meeting will be announced soon where the issues related to IPL and Chinese sponsorship deals in the tournament will be discussed.
Anti-China sentiment has been on the rise in India ever since the “violent” face-off between the two Asian giants took place.
The BCCI has a five-year-deal in place for IPL title rights with Chinese mobile phone maker Vivo, which fetches the Indian board a mammoth Rs 440 crore annually till 2022.
Indian companies with Chinese investments like Paytm are also involved in the IPL.