Indian Premier League: As India faces devastating second wave of Covid-19, cricket continues to play

These circumstances explain the unease she sometimes felt while watching the Indian Premier League (IPL), the country’s most lucrative sports competition which has continued. Even as the number of coronavirus deaths increases. India on Thursday reported nearly 380,000 new infections – another world record for the most cases in a single day – and 3,600 deaths.
“I just recovered from Covid 10 days ago and from every subsequent family you hear, so many in their family, friends, they’ve lost people,” said Anand Patil, who runs a design company and advertisement in Mumbai. CNN Sport.

“A couple of my lost friends; we continue to hear from families in need of urgent support.”

Despite the withdrawal of several top players and calls for postponement, the IPL, which is attracting the world’s top cricketers to big-ticket deals, is about to enter its fourth week of play.

“Some days I’m in the mood to watch (cricket) because it’s a respite from what’s going on. We’re all locked up at home, it’s a way for a family to come together and move on. have a good time together, especially in lockdown when you can’t get out, ”added Anand Patil.

“But some days it’s not okay. Some days it just feels like: do we really need it?”

Donation efforts

The IPL operates in strict bubbles as teams move between matches across the country; for Sunrisers Hyderabad players it even meant wear head-to-toe PPE for a domestic flight in Delhi.

This week, a number of top players, including India international Ravichandran Ashwin, withdrew from the tournament.

“My family and extended family are fighting Covid-19 and I want to support them during these difficult times”, Ashwin wrote on Twitter. “I hope to come back and play if things go the right way.”

Australian star Pat Cummins, the most expensive overseas purchase at the 2020 IPL auction, was applauded this week by donating $ 39,000 (AU $ 50,000) for medical supplies in India. A number of other current and former players – including Sachin Tendulkar and Brett Lee – and teams like the Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals have also donated for the Covid-19 relief efforts.

Ashwin plays a shot on day five of the third test between Australia and India earlier this year.

But questions arise as to whether game administrators could do more given the impact of Covid-19 in India.

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“It’s the sport we love, IPL for sure brings a lot of smiles and fun in the toughest times,” KK Ramachandran, a Coimbatore-based educator and cricketer enthusiast, told CNN Sport.

“I have no judgment on the programming of the IPL, but personally I think all the sponsors, teams and organizers could have achieved much bigger brand points if they had focused their attention and energy on it. which is without a doubt one of the greatest crises that humanity has known. face. “

Anand Patil also said that the game should do more to fight the pandemic: “Everyone can come together and feel a little better, and maybe they can donate some of the profits for what is needed by India now … and the beds and what we really need right now. “

ICC, the governing body of international cricket, and BCCI, the governing body of cricket in India, did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

In an e-mail cited by the Guardian“Hemang Amin, BCCI Acting Managing Director, said the organization” understands that there are (some) some misgivings and concerns regarding the general situation in India and the withdrawals of some cricketers. “

Speaking to the players, Amin went on to say, “While you play the sport that we all love, you are also doing something really important … When you all go out on the pitch, you bring hope to you. millions of If even for a minute you can make someone smile, you have done the right thing. While you are professionals and you will be playing to win, this time you are also playing for something much more important. .. humanity. ‘”

People wait to cremate the bodies at a crematorium in New Delhi on April 23.

‘Economic system’

According to Forbes, the IPL is the sixth most valuable sports league in the world, behind the NFL, the Champions League and the four biggest domestic football competitions in Europe. Delaying or canceling the tournament, according to some, would have a cost.

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“There is a whole ecosystem that the IPL supports … providing livelihoods for a few million Indians, if not more,” Indian cricket reporter Boria Majumdar told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies this week.

“We are talking about a huge economic system here. By shutting down the IPL, what are you doing? You are plunging the nation into more gloom, talking about more debt and more pandemic.”

From India Broadcasting Audience Research Council Viewership in last season’s IPL opening week jumped 15%, with 269 million viewers tune in for seven games on 21 channels.
A hoarding poster of Mumbai Indian players.

The success of the IPL has been driven in large part by the game’s crazed cricket fan base in India.

“Cricket is like a religion in India. Or maybe more,” Krishna Kumar, a brand marketer in Sydney, Australia and avid Indian cricket, told CNN Sport.

“It’s a common ground that brings everyone together, across regions, socioeconomic class, religion or sect. It’s India’s adhesive and antidepressant.”

Given the popularity of the sport and its star players (Indian captain Virat Kohli, for example, has nearly 200 million followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter), the IPL has a prominent platform in the midst of the public health crisis in India.

“We are in our vaccination campaign and there is a significant anti-vaxxer lobby like everywhere else in the world,” said Majumdar.

“Use IPL as a platform to get the right message out, vaccination, hygiene protocol, mask wear and all the rest.”

One such example is Ashwin of the Delhi Capitals, who tweeted about donating plasma to support Covid-19 patients to his 10.3 million subscribers.

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He also changed the name of his profile, so it now carries a simple message: “Stay home, stay safe! Take your vaccine.”

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