The BCCI and the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association have decided to allow 50 per cent spectators at the second India-England Test to be held at the M A Chidambaram stadium here, a top TNCA official told PTI on Monday. The issue was discussed by the TNCA members after fresh COVID-19 guidelines on easing of public movement and entry of spectators into sporting venues were issued. The move was cleared in a meeting between TNCA and BCCI officials. “We discussed the issue of allowing spectators for the second India vs England Test following fresh COVID-19 guidelines by the Central government permitting crowds at sporting venues and also the state government’s SOPs given on Sunday,” the TNCA official told PTI.
“It has been decided by the BCCI and TNCA to allow 50 per cent spectators for the second Test by following all safety protocols.”
However, the England cricket team have refused to comment on the development. “We are not going to comment on speculation. We are still waiting to hear from the BCCI in terms of their protocols for the forthcoming Test series,” England’s media spokesperson said.
The M A Chidambaram stadium has a capacity of 50,000.
The first Test begins on Friday while the second match starts on February 13. Crowds have already been allowed for the third and fourth Test in Ahmedabad.
The official also said that media would be allowed to cover both the Tests from the press box at the stadium. However, media conferences would still be held virtually.
The BCCI and the TNCA had earlier decided that the first two matches would be held behind closed doors. But the fresh home ministry guidelines on easing of restrictions on public movement have changed the scenario.
The official said there was little time to allow entry of spectators for the opening Test.
He said even though there was only a gap of three days between the first and second Tests, the TNCA was confident of making arrangements to allow 50 per cent spectators in the stadium.
“There is little time to make arrangements for spectators entry for the first Test so the crowd cannot be allowed. Though the gap between the two Tests is only three days, we are confident that arrangements can be made for (50 per cent) fans in second Test keeping the safety norms in mind,” the official added.
The Tamil Nadu government on Sunday announced that for sports, including cricket, 50 per cent occupancy would be allowed in stadiums.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had requested that matches be played behind closed doors.