Pune: From May 1, India will begin the third phase of vaccination for the people where anyone above the age of 18 will be entitled to get vaccine shot against COVID-19. However, the Indian government has clarified that there would be ‘no walk-in registration for vaccine’. The coronavirus outbreak has been such that many have been questioning the government's decision to permit the Indian Premier League (IPL) in such crucial times.
Now in a major development on Tuesday, Indian cricketers currently part of the IPL 2021 will be allowed to get COVID-19 vaccinations from Saturday but reportedly it won’t be ‘mandatory’. “The Indian players can get vaccinated from Saturday. It is a call that is left on players,” news agency ANI quoted an unnamed BCCI source as saying on Tuesday.
A few overseas players including India spinner have left the tournament citing COVID-19 risk but the BCCI has extended the vaccination option to Indian cricketers. From Saturday, the likes of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul and more can get themselves vaccinated. However, vaccination isn't compulsory, the players have to take the call themselves.
BCCI Vice President Rajeev Shukla had previously said, “In order to cope with this coronavirus rise, I think the only solution is to get vaccinated. BCCI is also thinking on those lines that players should be vaccinated. Nobody knows when coronavirus is going to end and you can't give a deadline that by this time frame, it will not be there so players can play easily. So, I think now will have to think over that. Vaccination should be done for the players also.”
Now, even if the BCCI decides to vaccinate Indian players in IPL 2021, will the cricket body in India permit to offer COVID-19 vaccination to foreign cricketers as well?
IPL TO GO AHEAD AS PER SCHEDULE, SAYS DADA
Despite India is witnessing over three lakh cases every day from the past few days, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly has confirmed IPL 2021 will go on as per the schedule. The world’s biggest domestic cricket league is being held in bio-bubbles around six cities in India with matches being played in empty stadium.
"So far, it's going on as scheduled," Ganguly told Sportstar on Monday. Dada’s comments come after a number of players pulled out of the IPL 2021 midway through the season due to the COVID-19 outbreak and bio-bubble fatigue. While Delhi Capitals ace-spinner R Ashwin declared he was taking a break to support his family in the battle against COVID-19, three Australian players also departed India on Monday.
According to media reports, both Cricket Australia and the England Cricket Board currently have no plans to forcefully call their players back but they will aid returns for those who want to come back. Cricket Australia in a statement clarified that they are in touch with their players and are constantly taking feedback from the Indian government.
Andre Tye, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, and Liam Livingstone are among the foreign players who have already withdrawn from tournament due to COVID-19 clouds looming over the tournament. Whether more will leave India or not, remains to be seen.