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T20 World Cup could move to UAE amid COVID-19 crisis in India, BCCI official confirms

T20 World Cup could move to UAE amid COVID-19 crisis in India, BCCI official confirms
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T20 World Cup could move to UAE amid COVID-19 crisis in India, BCCI official confirms

Highlights

The T20 World Cup could be shifted to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) if the COVID-19 crisis in India persists, a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official has confirmed.

The T20 World Cup could be shifted to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) if the COVID-19 crisis in India persists, a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official has confirmed.

After the International Cricket Council (ICC) said that they have a 'Plan B' if India is unable to host the T20 World Cup in 2021, Dhiraj Malhotra, who is the BCCI's General Manager of Game Development, has confirmed that the tournament could be moved to the Middle East later this year.

"It would be the UAE. We're hoping again that it would be done by the BCCI. So, we'll take the tournament there, but it'll still be done by the BCCI. I've just been named one of the tournament directors, so I'm doing everything we can to make sure it happens (in India). We will be doing the normal scenario, COVID scenario and worst-case scenario, so with all that we're talking to the ICC at the moment," Malhotra was quoted by cricket.com.au, as saying on the BBC's Stumped podcast.

"As of now, we are targeting and looking at ticket sales and people travelling from all over the world. But again, we don't know what the situation will be at that point in time (in October)," added Malhotra.

The T20 World Cup was initially scheduled to be held in India in 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was shifted to 2021. However, the Indian Premier League (IPL) was still organised by the BCCI. The Indian T20 league was not played in India but instead was hosted by the UAE. By doing so, the Middle Eastern country became only the third nation, after India and South Africa, to host a whole season of the IPL. South Africa did so in 2009, which was IPL's second edition.

Last year, the UAE proved its capability to host a major tournament like the IPL, which comprised of as many as 60 games, amid a pandemic, at just three venues – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah – in a little more than seven weeks, all in a bio-secure bubble.

On Thursday, India set an unfortunate global record rise in cases for the eighth consecutive day with 3,79,257 reported positive results and 3,645 deaths. Also, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh and the United Kingdom – who will all be sending teams to the T20 World Cup this year – have currently banned flights from India due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Speaking about hosting the T20 World Cup in India, New Zealand legend Shane Bond said it would be a difficult task for the BCCI to ensure full safety in a tournament as large as the World Cup. Bond is currently present in the bio-bubble as Mumbai Indians' assistant coach.

"It's certainly challenging, there's no doubt about that. The uniqueness of the (IPL teams being) privately owned – we have our own hotel, we have net bowlers, all the little things that help you make up a cricket team are taken care of. I've been to ICC tournaments before and the number (of personnel) is limited to around 23. If you're only carrying those sorts of numbers, and there are challenges getting in and out of the country, then it's going to make it pretty tough.

The only way I can see it being made easier is just extra funding. If you can do that, then there's no doubt that in this competition (the IPL) the bubbles are pretty strong. Our one is outstanding. The other thing is, in five months' time things might look drastically different with the vaccinations and lockdowns that are going well. I'm sure there will be contingencies put in place by the BCCI and the Indian government," added Bond, according to cricket.com.au.

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