Coronavirus: Lucknow, Kolkata ODIs of India-South Africa series to be played behind closed doors

After the Union Sports Minister's directive to all National Sports Federations to avoid large gatherings, the BCCI is left with very little option.

India will play the remaining two ODIs against South Africa behind closed doors.   -  Twitter/BCCI

The remaining two one-dayers between India and South Africa will be played in empty stadiums in Lucknow and Kolkata due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The matches are scheduled to be held on March 15 (Lucknow) and March 18 (Kolkata).

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in a statement released on Thursday said it "has been working closely with the Government of India along with Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) in the wake of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak."

"The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Wednesday, assessed that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. The BCCI is making every effort for compliance with the regulatory bodies of the Government of India and ensure the safety of our athletes and valued fans," the release further added.

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Earlier, Kiren Rijiju, the Union Sports Minister had said, "We are advising to the sporting bodies who are organising tournaments to ensure that the guidelines issued by the health ministry are maintained. They should ensure that mass gathering is avoided."

Empty stands

Statement from CAB: "We had a meeting with Mr. Rajiva Sinha, Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal. He informed us about the Notifications issued by Government of India and that the same needs to be adhered to," said Avishek Dalmiya, CAB president.

Therefore, ticket sales for the 18th game have been put on hold for the time being. We would await further directions from the authorities and the BCCI in the matter. However, all other preparations for the game are on.”

Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association Secretary Yudhveer Singh said, “After the Government advisory, we did an inspection and also spoke to the BCCI officials. Now we have decided to hold the Lucknow match without spectators.”

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