India’s death toll surging past 200,000 WON’T stop the IPL, say the country’s ‘tone-deaf’ cricket board, who claim they need to ‘absorb fans at home – otherwise many will step out without masks’, despite players fleeing and calls for a cancellation
- Indian Premier League organisers are carrying on as planned despite Covid-19
- India is in the grips of a huge new wave of pandemic, with 200,000 a day dying
- ‘Tone-deaf’ cricket board say the IPL is providing a much-needed distraction
- Players are giving up mega-money contracts to flee the country and return home
The Indian Premier League season will continue as scheduled, despite the country’s coronavirus death toll topping 200,000 a DAY and players fleeing.
There have been widespread calls for cricket to be cancelled as the pandemic takes a grip of India, but a senior board official has insisted that it is business as usual for the IPL.
At least 300,000 people have tested positive for the virus every day over the last week, and organisers have been begging the biggest IPL stars not to quit the league as fears continue to rise.
India’s official Covid death toll has topped 200,000 as the country is devastated by a second wave of the virus, but the Indian Premier League is continuing despite the pandemic
A number of top players, including Adam Zampa (left) and Kane Richardson (right) have quit
Bodies are lined up for cremation at a site in New Delhi on Wednesday morning
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has also been accused of being ‘tone-deaf’ in its stance, but a senior official has insisted that the sport is providing much-needed relief during the country’s toughest times.
‘It’s probably more important now to hold IPL, when there is so much negativity around,’ the official said, as reported by The Guardian.
‘We should not underestimate the power of sport to spread positivity. At least fans are absorbed in it at home. Otherwise many of them will step out without masks. The league generates considerable money for the economy. It has to be seen from that context, too. How does stopping IPL help?’
The country reported 3,293 deaths from the virus on Wednesday, pushing its overall toll from 197,894 to 201,187 – the world’s fourth highest after the US, Brazil and Mexico – and logged 360,960 new cases, both record figures.
India is in the grip of a ‘far more infectious and probably far more deadly’ second wave of Covid that has pushed hospitals ‘beyond crisis point’ in just a matter of weeks
A health worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) walks past the funeral pyres of those who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a mass cremation on Monday
But investigations by Indian newspapers at cremation grounds around the country suggest the true death toll could be double that, because the official figure only includes those who die in hospitals – which are currently overwhelmed, leaving patients to die at home or in the streets.
Satish Menon, chief executive of Punjab Kings, echoed the sentiment of the BCCI in insisting it is right to plough on: ‘For people sitting at home, we’re providing entertainment. Otherwise they’ve very little to do.’
Worried cricketers are continuing to pull out of the competition, giving up huge wages in a bid to get home to a safer environment.
In response, the acting chief executive of the BCCI, Hemang Amin, sent an email to the league’s eight franchises assuring them of players’ safety inside the biosecure bubble.
India reported 3,293 new cases of Covid on Wednesday, a new one-day record, but amid warnings the true toll is likely far higher because the country only counts hospital deaths
Studies at cremation grounds in Delhi (pictured) and Bangalore found that thousands of Covid victims were being brought for cremation that are not being logged in official statistics
He wrote: ‘While you are professionals and will play to win, this time you are also playing for something much more important … humanity.’
Indian newspapers have also been joining the fight against continuing with the IPL, with a Chennai-based outlet completely suspending its coverage of the competition ‘until normalcy is restored’.
Matches were played as normal on Tuesday, and are scheduled to continue every day at six venues across India through until May 23, when there is a break before the play-offs start.
No fans are being allowed at any of the matches, but the television audience around the world is huge for the competition.
Away from cricket, one cremation ground in Bangalore recorded 3,104 cremations of Covid victims during March and April, the Times of India reports, but official government figures for the city only logged 1,422 Covid deaths.
The IPL is a huge money-spinner for India and organisers are keen to continue despite growing numbers of deaths from Covid-19. Pictured is the Mumbai Indians celebrating back in 2019
India also recorded another 360,960 cases of Covid, also a one-day record, as Delhi’s chief minister warned the wave is being driven by a ‘supremely infectious’ variant
Another investigation by NDTV found that crematoriums in Delhi recorded 3,096 Covid cremations last week, while the official Covid death tally stood at just 1,938, sparking fears that the actual death toll in the country is much higher than officially stated.
Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, told the New York Times that his modelling suggests India’s death toll is at least double the official tally, but could be up to five times higher.
Meanwhile Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejrilwal warned on Wednesday that the wave is being driven by a ‘supremely contagious’ variant of the disease which is causing more severe cases of Covid that take longer to recover from, pushing hospitals past their limits.
Hospitals are running desperately short on intensive care beds and oxygen to give to Covid patients, who are now dying at the rate of more than 100 per hour
Medics have warned that India’s second wave is probably being driven by a more infectious and more deadly variant of the virus, though investigations are still being carried out
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