Bajrang Punia: A COVID-free IPL will be good news for Olympic sports

IPL 2020 will be played in UAE from September to November and teams have to operate from within bio bubbles to keep COVID-19 away.

By Naveen Peter

According to India’s star wrestler Bajrang Punia, the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be a litmus test for live sports and its successful staging can serve as a template for staging future sporting events.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has scheduled the IPL from September 19 to November 10 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

The world’s richest Twenty20 cricket league will be played under strict protocols to keep the coronavirus at bay. Teams will be inside a ‘bio bubble’ for more than two months.

“Everyone’s safety is very important. I think, if the IPL finishes without any bad news of coronavirus, then sports organisers can also plan on holding the events (with all precautions) in future,” the Indian wrestler told IANS.

Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia.

Meanwhile, former World Boxing Championships medallist, Gaurav Bhiduri, believed that the conduct of IPL 2020 will help others understand the ‘new normal’ in organising sports events.

“Yes, it would be good for us once the IPL begins. We all will get an idea of what precautions and steps we should follow to keep everything safe in order to conduct any event in India,” the Delhi-based boxer said.

What is the IPL bio bubble?

The IPL will hold matches played in a restricted environment where players, officials, and support staff involved will be limited to specific areas like the venue, training sessions and team hotel, thus minimising their chances of contracting the infection.

Everyone involved with the eight-team franchise-based league will have to undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test before entering the bio bubble, while tests will also be conducted at regular intervals during the course of IPL 2020.

With the matches likely to be played behind closed doors, the teams will be permitted to use the empty stands in the stadium as extended dugouts during their matches.

However, team meetings and other group interactions will be conducted in an outdoor environment but keeping social distancing norms in mind.

When in the hotel, the players are expected to minimise the use of common areas and will have to use room service as much as possible.

While families of players and support staff have been allowed to join them in UAE, they will not be permitted to leave the bio-bubble during the league.

The medical staff, meanwhile, is expected to be on their toes during the competition and will have to use personal protective equipment (PPE) while engaging with a team member.

The BCCI has also made it clear that any breach of the biosecurity protocol will be dealt in accordance with the IPL’s code of conduct while also laying down an exhaustive list of measures for the broadcasters, match officials and other parties involved.