Cricket

IPL 2020: As 13 CSK players and officials test COVID-19 positive, a look at SOPs for safe conduct of league

It was always going to be a challenge to hold a sporting tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic. The much-awaited Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 was indefinitely suspended few days before the original scheduled date of 29 March.

The pandemic continues to wreak havoc and a large number of activities are still halted but few sports have resumed. It began in May with German Bundesliga restarting followed by other European football leagues. Formula 1 season is also underway along with the NBA and MLB - to name a few.

Cricket got back in July with England facing the West Indies in a three-match Test series. A bio-secure environment, with strict health protocols, was created for the series. Since then, England have also played against Ireland and Pakistan.

IPL 2020 is now slated for 19 September in UAE, with the final to be played on 10 November. The whole tournament will be played away from home due to growing number of COVID-19 cases in India. Initial hiccups were always expected. Rajasthan Royals' (RR) fielding coach Dishant Yagnik  was the first positive case among the IPL contingents. He tested positive before leaving for the UAE.

The much worrying news came on 29 August when news agency PTI reported that 13 people from Chennai Super Kings (CSK), including India and India A cricketers, have tested positive.

In a statement, BCCI said, "13 personnel have tested positive of which 2 are players. All the affected personnel as well as their close contacts are asymptomatic and have been isolated from other team members. They are being monitored by the IPL Medical Team."

The positive cases have, reportedly, not led to any imminent threat to the league but it has raised a lot questions over the health protocols. We take a look at the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that has been devised by BCCI to safely conduct the IPL.

What protocols have to be followed before entering IPL bubble in the UAE?

The IPL franchises were required to follow an extensive exercise before entering the 'bio-bubble' in the UAE. According to PTI, franchises were asked to access medical and travel history of all players and support staff since 1 March. All players and support staff were asked to undergo two COVID-19 PCR tests before assembling in an Indian city to depart for the Middle East. Only after testing negative on both tests were IPL contingent members allowed to travel.

On arrival in the UAE, players and support staff were again tested on day 1, 3 and 6 during their mandatory six-day quarantine. Only after testing negative on these three tests were players and officials allowed to leave their hotel facilities. The same rules apply for overseas players and support staff members.

The breach of any bio-secure environment protocols by players and team support staff will be punishable under the IPL code of conduct.

What will happen to the positive personnel?

According to the SOP, those testing positive will be quarantined. BCCI has said in its release that positive personnel and their close contacts have been isolated from other members. The COVID-19 positive players and support staff will have to undergo 14-days quarantine and clear two tests before becoming eligible for the tournament.

The same procedure was followed by RR's Yagnik, who is now in UAE after testing negative for coronavirus.

What are plans for teams' stay and food arrangements?

The SOPs requires IPL teams to stay in different hotels and team members can only start meeting each other after producing three negative tests, however, they have to follow social distancing norms and wear masks. Teams are asked to order food in individual rooms and avoid using dining rooms.

The family members of players and support staff can join them in bio-bubble after taking as many tests as everyone but they won't be allowed to travel on the team bus and can't leave the bubble.

The IPL bio-bubble compromises of hotels, training grounds, stadiums, and transport. The IPL contingent members are not allowed to get out of this bubble till the time they are participating in the T20 league.

What are the protocols related to training and matches?

The players and support staff would continue to get tested every fifth day during the tournament.

IPL 2020 would be played without fans due to the pandemic and the match venues will only have essential staff apart from players and team management. The teams have been asked to use stands as dressing rooms as it would allow them to maintain social distancing.

Teams have also been asked to install Scalene Hypercharge Corona Canon (Shycocan), a device that is supposed to neutralise 99.9 per cent of the coronavirus that might be floating in the air in closed spaces.

Medical team members, including physios and masseurs, have to wear PPE kits if they need to get in physical contact with a player (massages, injuries etc). The players and match officials have been asked to shower in the hotel after a match.

The SOPs also include ICC recommendations which mean a saliva ban to shine the ball.

Updated Date: August 31, 2020 16:26:26 IST

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