By Nagraj Gollapudi, ESPNcricinfo,
The Indian government is set to give the BCCI permission to move the 2020 IPL to the UAE. ESPNcricinfo understands that different wings of the government, including Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs, have given the nod for the tournament to be shifted outside India as the country is coping with a high surge of Covid-19 cases that have crossed the 2-million mark.
Although both BCCI and IPL have not made a comment yet, it is understood a formal letter from the government is expected to be sent on Friday.
On Wednesday, the IPL conducted a meeting with the franchises to seek their views on the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) along with questions, including the travel arrangements for players and support staff, the necessary testing protocols and the quarantine process before and after the teams land in the UAE.
Breach the bubble and face the penalty
The IPL made it absolutely clear to franchises that any stake holder – be it a team member or owner – breaching the biosecure bubble would be penalised as per the tournament’s code of conduct although it did not exactly specify the penalty itself.
“Breach of any Bio-Secure Environment protocols by players and team support staff will be punishable under the IPL Code of Conduct Rules,” the IPL said in the draft SOP document spanning 16 pages, titled “Overview of Health & Safety Protocols during IPL 2020 Season”.
According to the protocols, team members can leave the bubble only “under exceptional circumstances, e.g. hospital visits for scans,” but with “prior” permission from the IPL Medical Manager, a new position created due to the pandemic. “In such cases, special arrangements will be made to ensure minimal contact with other personnel outside the Bio-Secure Environment,” the document said.
Franchises to appoint a team doctor
Every franchise would need to appoint a team doctor, who would be responsible for implementing all medical guidelines. The IPL has also recommended the franchises get the “medical and travel history” of every team member since March 1, information it has said should be obtained two weeks before flying out to the UAE. “This will be done via an online questionnaire along with a daily temperature logging and symptom checker going live 2 weeks before the team’s assembly,” it said in the SOP document.
The IPL has also proposed teams should only depart for the UAE from August 20 with minimum squads and ideally on charter flights. Another thing that will be compulsory for team members is wearing a “triple layered mask” in public places.
The IPL has already put up a rigorous testing process in place with mandatory multiple tests before they start training. This would also include having a six-day quarantine period upon landing in the UAE. In addition to the test upon landing at the airport in the UAE, all team members would undergo three further tests – on days one, three and six after arriving. Only once the results of all tests come out negative can team members meet within the bubble, but would need to wear masks while following social-distancing norms.
All eight teams would also need to stay separately. “Team members must be allotted rooms in a separate wing of the hotel that has a separate centralised air conditioning (AC) unit than the rest of the hotel,” the IPL said.
Teams meetings, the IPL has said, should be conducted in open spaces as far as possible. Considering spectators would not be allowed for the matches, the IPL has said teams should not be confined in the designated dressing rooms and can spread across “vacant areas” in the ground.
To mitigate the risk of Covid-19 at the venue, the IPL has recommended the use of Scalene Hypercharge Corona Canon (Shycocan), “a device that has the ability to neutralise 99.9% of the coronavirus that might be floating in the air in closed spaces.”
On match days, team members would need to have their temperature checked, and during and after the game team members have been discouraged to engage in celebrations involving any body contact including “handshakes.”
Owners/families to undergo seven-day quarantine if protocol breached
As far as team owners and families of team members are concerned, the IPL has said the medical guidelines would apply to them, too, including the testing and social-distancing protocols. Owners and family members who are not part of the team bubble would not be allowed on the team bus to the ground.
Owners and families who will be inside the team bubble from the beginning are also “not permitted” to meet people outside the bubble. Failing to follow the protocol would mean a week-long quarantine. They will also have to “return two negative PCR tests on Day 6 and Day 7, to be allowed to re-enter the Bio-Secure Environment.”
Main photo: IPL 2020 is set to take place in the UAE from September 19 to November 10 (BCCI)