The Board of Control for Cricket in India has indefinitely suspended the lucrative and hugely popular Indian Premier League cricket tournament, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The BCCI governing board, led by president and former India cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly, held a conference call Tuesday. On Wednesday, IPL COO Hemang Amin informed all the eight participating franchises of its decision. No new dates have been decided yet.
The tournament was originally scheduled to take place March 29 through May 24. Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a three-week countrywide lockdown causing the IPL to be postponed until April 15. On Tuesday, Modi extended the lockdown to May 3.
Besides the star Indian cricketers like Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the IPL relies heavily on overseas cricketers to add star value. All international and domestic flights in and out of India have been suspended since the lockdown was announced.
In 2017, Star India, now part of Disney, bid $2.55 billion for tournament rights from 2018 through 2022. The launch of the Indian version of Disney Plus was due to coincide with the beginning of the tournament.
Last year’s tournament final between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings drew 18.6 million concurrent viewers on Star’s streaming service Hotstar, which is now rebranded as Disney Plus Hotstar.
The BCCI has contributed $6.6 million (INR 510 million) to the PM Cares coronavirus relief fund. Officially, India has 11,555 coronavirus cases, with 396 deaths.