| Mumbai |
Updated: Nov 23, 2020 4:53:15 AM
The Indian Cricket Council earned “Rs 4,000 crore” in IPL revenue in the UAE, TV audiences were “about 25% higher than last year”, and over 30 000 Covid RT-PCR tests were carried out for a total of 1,800 people without one of the 60 matches affected by the pandemic.
This, according to BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal, is the ballot at the end of the top-tier T20 league. This year’s IPL was also the first major sporting tournament in India since the Covid epidemic began to spread across the world in February.
Dhumal, however, did not address the income or audience split for the tournament which took place without spectators in the stands due to the pandemic. Organizers have bet on the five-year broadcast and media rights deal signed in 2017 with Star worth Rs 16,347 crore.
With strict Covid borders in India, the IPL was held from September 19 to November 10 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. But, Dhumal said The Indian Express, the tournament was uncertain just two months away when world No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic tested positive after playing exhibition matches in Serbia and Croatia.
Recalling a conversation with BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, Dhumal said, “After this report (on Djokovic tested positive) came in, we were in two minds. A lot of people have told us not to go ahead (IPL). What if something happens to a player? The IPL would last almost three months. However, Jay said we have to move on, he is more confident than all of us.
Dhumal said, “The Board has managed to reduce the cost by almost 35% compared to the last IPL. We made Rs 4,000 crore during the pandemic period. Our TV audience grew by around 25%, we had the most viewers in the opening game (Mumbai Indians vs. Chennai Super Kings). Those who doubted us came to thank us for hosting the IPL. If this IPL had not happened, the cricketers would have lost a year.
According to other BCCI officials, the board has received two official invitations to host the IPL – from the boards of directors of the United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka. The board decided to go with the United Arab Emirates as they had hosted the IPL earlier, and the teams could travel by bus to reach the stadium, which was cheaper.
Subsequently, an official said, the details were confirmed through more than 40 conference calls that “went on for endless hours.” There were also virtual meetings on player safety and working with tech company Restrata for a bio-secure bubble. The BCCI sent its key personnel to Dubai in advance, who took the “extra precaution” of boarding only flights with 20% occupancy, an official said.
Meanwhile, a standard operating procedure (SOP) was worked out with experts, even as officials alerted IPL teams to booking charter flights in advance and offering hotel options at a discounted rate. Senior officials also held several virtual meetings with IPL owners, followed by interactions with players to answer questions.
Most of the teams had over 40 members in their squads, with the Mumbai Indians emerging as the largest contingent with over 150 members, including a tailor, makeup artist and hairdresser. “In the event that we had cases of Covid, the council had blocked 200 rooms separately so that patients could be quarantined and only join once they have fully recovered,” Dhumal said.
The first setback came days after the teams arrived in Dubai, when the Chennai Super Kings saw a dozen members who tested positive, including two players. “When we heard the news, we tried to figure out if it was asymptomatic or severe. We have been told that all are asymptomatic. So everything went under isolation and we followed the advice of all the health authorities. We have to thank the UAE, who have been with us every moment, ”Dhumal said.
Then there was a “problem” in Abu Dhabi where “the authorities were reluctant to grant any concession to the quarantine period”.
While Dubai relaxed it and allowed players to train after seven days, Abu Dhabi had a mandatory rule that people coming from outside should undergo a 14-day quarantine. Abu Dhabi was home to the IPL winning team Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders. “The BCCI secretary managed to convince the Abu Dhabi authorities to shorten it,” Dhumal said.
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