As teams begin to arrive in the United Arab Emirates for Indian Premier League 2020, hosts Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) have expressed their desire to allow spectators in the stadiums. Cricket matches and other sporting events across the world are being held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ECB, though, are working with the UAE government to see the possibility of fan attendance. If and when the government gives a go-ahead - either for full or partial fan attendance - the ECB will discuss with the Board of Control for Cricket in India to check their requirements.
“As hosts, Emirates Cricket Board will work closely with the authorities to seek approval on what protocols need to be followed," ECB General Secretary Mubashshir Usmani told Cricketnext. “This includes fan attendance, we will then discuss with the BCCI to assess their spectator requirements. We want our Asian diaspora, as well as the other expat and Emirati sports-loving fans in the UAE to be able to watch the action from the stands."
The BCCI has prepared an elaborate SOP for all franchises to ensure safety during the tournament. Players will be tested every fifth day during the IPL. During the first week in the UAE, the players and team officials will not be allowed to meet each other in the hotel and they can only do so after they test negative thrice. The UAE government too will provide the boards with a ‘UAE safety guidelines’, said Usmani.
“The authorities will provide both us and the BCCI with the UAE safety guidelines in a timely manner which the teams and officials will follow. The SOP surrounding the arrangements are currently being prepared by these experts and once the authorities provide us with the finalized guidelines we can implement."
Usmani said hosting eight teams in three cities and providing them practice and training facilities will not be an issue as they have ample infrastructure. “The BCCI have made their decision as to the city-base for each team," he said. “We have three world-class stadia in Abu Dhabi, Dubai - which hold the record for the most T20I matches - and Sharjah - which hold the record for the most ODI matches - additionally Abu Dhabi and Dubai have 2 adjoining ovals. All three venues have access to world-class practice facilities where in Dubai the ICC Academy has the world’s most comprehensive practice facility."
Hosting the high-profile tournament will also bolster UAE’s sports-tourism and professionalism, apart from generating interest in the grassroots even among local Emirati population, expects Usmani. “We anticipate the direct and indirect flow-on-effects of hosting a successful IPL will bolster our country being a hub for top-level sports-events, sports-tourism, as well as highlighting the UAE’s professionalism in delivering such events," he said.
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“Hosting such a popular sporting event can only be considered as a very good thing for Cricket in and across the UAE. Exposing some of the best T20 sportspeople in the world to our resident and Emirati population will no doubt generate interest in the game – grass roots, amateur and professional levels."