The ICC is prepared to deal with possible outbreaks of COVID-19 and is committed to ensure a safe and unabridged T20 World Cup amidst the pandemic, acting CEO Geoff Allardice said on Sunday.
The T20 World Cup will be the first major global ICC tournament to be held since the pandemic. Tournaments and bilateral rubbers have been impacted by cases of COVID-19 in the past year and a half, and the ICC was aware that cases of infection can arise during the tournament, Allardice said at a media briefing on Sunday.
“As with most international sporting events around the world, there is a chance you'll get positive cases during an event,” Allardice said.
“I think we're in a situation where all of our participants in terms of the teams, the umpires, the people coming into the event and into bubbles are vaccinated, so that reduces risk of serious illness. There's no doubt about that.
“In terms of the way the close contacts have been managed, we've been studying and liaising with a number of major international sporting events to see how they have been functioning over recent months. The management of those issues has evolved over the past 12 months and where we are reflects the best practice in terms of running global events at this time,” Allardice explained.
In August, the Indian team pulled out of the final Test of a five-match series against England to prevent possible outbreaks within the playing XI, after a member of the support staff had tested positive for the coronavirus. Allardice clarified that any decision on participation after the emergence of COVID-19 cases during the tournament will be taken by the ICC, and not by the member boards.
“We've been pretty clear in our communication with the members. We have committees to look at any cases that arise during the event. They will look at identifying close contacts and taking decisions around future events, but any decisions around matches will be taken by that committee. And it's not going to be something that's going to be dealt with by the members as it would be in bilateral cricket,” Allardice said.
The T20 World Cup will feature the use of the Decision Review System for the first time. The DRS has been in regular use in major ICC tournaments only since 2017.
“We're continuing on with the playing conditions that have been in place in T20 Internationals over the past 12 months which is two reviews per team," he said.
The decision to move the tournament from India was taken to ensure that it has better chances of not being disrupted by the pandemic, Allardice revealed.
“India is a fantastic host of ICC events and the most recent men's T20 World Cup (in 2016) that was staged there was outstanding. So, the decision to move the event away from India hasn't been taken lightly.
“Trying to look at a place where we minimise the risks involved in staging: one of the things about the UAE is that teams will be staying mostly in the same hotels. They will be taking the bus to the grounds, the flight movements will be minimal, it's just two teams from Oman coming for the Super 12 stage. The hotels and the venue have had experience in running cricket in a bio-safe manner with two editions of the IPL being staged here during COVID,” he said.
Among the participating teams, Afghanistan will play as a Full Member of the ICC for the first time at a T20 World Cup.
The recent regime change in Afghanistan may have several repercussions there but any re-evaluation of its impact on cricket and the response by the ICC will not be taken immediately, Allardice said.
“When the change of regime took place in Afghanistan in August, we've been in regular contact with the Afghanistan Cricket Board. Our primary passion is to support the development of cricket in that country through the member board. We've said all along that we're waiting to see how things unfold under the different regime in that country. We'll do that through the cricket board. The ICC board will consider it when they next meet, which is looking like at the end of the T20 World Cup.
“They're a full member of the ICC, and their team is preparing for the event at the moment. In terms of their participation in the event, it's proceeding as per normal.”
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