A sober message from the IPLFriday, April 30, 2021
The Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament is the biggest money spinner in cricket. And, at a time of great crisis in India caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, cricket — broadcast via television and other audio visual avenues — is providing priceless balm for the population of 1.4 billion people.
Until recently, the Indian authorities seemed convinced the country had escaped the worst of the pandemic. But in recent weeks a surge has brought hospitals and related health-care facilities to breaking point.
There are horrendous reports of death rates so high that crematoriums have run out of capacity.
More than 40 countries are said to have rushed to provide aid to India in the form of equipment, etc, but, in what is sure to be a big blow to morale, the United States has recommended that its citizens leave the Asian country immediately.
Statistics up to yesterday said since the pandemic began COVID-19-related deaths in India were well in excess of 200,000, with more than 18 million confirmed cases. Yesterday alone there were said to be close to 380,000 confirmed cases with 3,645 deaths.
As has been the case globally, lockdowns have been among the options being used by the Indian authorities to minimise virus spread.
And, as people everywhere are finding out, the damage caused by COVID-19 can't only be considered in quantifiable ways. In fact, the negative impact on the human spirit is incalculable.
That's where activities involving culture, entertainment, and sport transmitted via audiovisual technologies to people isolated in their homes can make such a big difference, easing stress and tension.
That's exactly what is happening in cricket-loving India, where organisers of the IPL have so far kept the tournament going despite the pressure caused by soaring cases and deaths. Overseas players in the cash-rich league — including at least eight West Indians — will be particularly concerned, despite the biosecure bubbles that have become a feature of high-level professional and international cricket in the COVID-19 era.
We hear that at least three Australian cricketers have opted to leave the IPL.
Hence, assurances from IPL organisers that cricketers “are totally safe within the bubble” and that when time comes for them to return home to their respective countries all will be done to ensure they reach their “respective destinations seamlessly”.
Board of Control for Cricket in India executive Mr Hemang Amin, in an e-mail sent to players and coaches, tugged at the heart with his plea for overseas professionals to consider the emotional and psychological needs of ordinary people.
Noting that his country faces “unprecedented challenges stretching its health care and spirit”, Mr Amin urged players to recognise that, “When you all walk out onto the field, you are bringing hope to millions of people…” and also, that they weren't just playing for their franchises, but “something much more important... humanity”.
It's a message sportsmen and women everywhere should take on board as they engage competitively in these unbelievably challenging times.
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