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IPL 2021 Phase 2: BCCI Strengthens COVID-19 Protocols for A Safe Conclusion of Tournament

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Cricket buffs heaved a sigh of relief when the BCCI announced that they will host the remainder of the 14th edition of IPL in the UAE from September. The tournament was suspended in May after the bio-bubble in India was ruptured and players and support staff contracted the COVID-19 virus.  Now, with a new venue, IPL 2021 phase 2 is set to begin from September 19, where CSK will play MI in the first match. BCCI has chalked out fresh and stricter guidelines for the UAE leg of the championship to ensure an uninterrupted momentum for the remaining 31 matches.

What is BCCI doing to ensure tight safety inside the ground?

According to the health and safety protocols that the BCCI issued to all the franchises, the umpires will be replacing and sanitizing all cricket balls hit for a six. The safety circular read, “If the cricket ball goes in the stands or outside the stadium, the fourth umpire will provide a replacement from the library of cricket balls.” The circular also mentions that the fourth empire would be sanitizing any returned ball with alcohol-based wipes. Even though the BCCI stated that according to a scientific study, the transmission risk of coronavirus through the ball is very less, it seems that the board is walking on eggshells to prevent the pandemic from jinxing the tournament again.

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The safety protocols also refrain the players from spitting or releasing nasal secretions on the ground. The circular instructs members to spit or sneeze into tissue papers and carefully discard them in the provided dustbins. With regard to spectators and audience, the renewed tournament could witness vaccinated and eager fans filling up to 50% of the stadium’s seating capacity.

What is BCCI doing to make the bio-bubble more rigid for phase 2 of IPL 2021?

According to the protocol notice, all cricketers and support staff will have to go through six days of strict quarantine, along with three negative test reports before stepping inside the bio-bubble. Strict disciplinary action will be meted out to the team members or their families if they breach the bio-bubble. Exemption from the abovementioned isolation span is possible for the Indian cricketers currently playing in England if they successfully tick off certain boxes for a “bubble to bubble” mobility.

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After South Africa’s tour of Sri Lanka, India’s tour of England and the Caribbean Premier League are all completed, cricketers, support staff and commentators will not have to go through immigration and other physical formalities at the airport; they will go directly to the aeroplane from the team bus to tighten their bio-bubbles.

For recreational activities, players can have access to a golf course while adhering to certain guidelines. To visit the golf course, cricketers need to receive an acknowledgement from the IPL chief medical officer 24 hours prior to their visit, so that the Board can book the entire area solely for the players. The circular further prohibits the use of any other facility at the Golf Club such as bars, restaurants, cafes, gymnasium, etc.  It instructs IPL participants to wear their golf apparel before they arrive at the Golf Club and avoid using locker rooms. It also prohibits the use of shower facilities at the golf club. The instructions also ask the players to not share their drinks during breaks and use their designated bottles.

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Given such strict COVID-19 protocols, it seems like the BCCI is trying to leave no stone unturned to ensure that nothing except for the coin goes for a toss in phase 2 of the IPL 2021 tournament.

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