The directive from the Government of India to suspend all visas, barring a few categories, till April 15 has put the participation of foreign players in IPL 2020 in doubt.
The IPL Governing Council, meanwhile, will meet on Saturday to discuss the viability of hosting the T20 League amidst the threat of COVID-19.
Cricket Australia (CA) has said the final decision, at this point, rests with the players and their respective franchises.
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"The IPL is not affiliated with CA as a separate competition featuring individual Australian players, whose contracts are directly with their franchises," said a communications manager with the Australian cricket board.
"From a CA perspective, we continue to monitor the situation, particularly looking at the advice provided by DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and other relevant government agencies, including the Australian Institute of Sport, which has outlined a coordinated approach for all Australian sports."
Even if the tournament gets a go-ahead and the players fall under the exemption category, will the Australian cricketers risk travel for IPL?
As on Thursday early evening, Australia has more than 150 confirmed cases of coronavirus. India has 73.
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According to the manager of a leading Australian cricketer, it would be 'premature' to comment on the players' availability.
"We aren’t in a position to comment at this stage particularly given we’ve not received any advice from India/IPL team. Cricket Australia has not made any comment in relation to this. I think it’s too early," he said.
Out of the 338 players who went into the IPL 2020 auction, only 62 succeeded in finding a franchise, with all teams filling up their eight overseas spots. It was a windfall for the Australians, led by Pat Cummins (KKR) who became the most expensive overseas buy in IPL history at Rs 15.5 crore.
Glenn Maxwell (KXIP) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (Mumbai Indians) too landed million-dollar deals. With as many as 13 Australians being signed, their absence could take the gloss off the IPL, should the tournament go ahead as planned without the overseas recruits.
As per the government directive, “all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure.”
According to “Details of Visas Granted by India” manual on the Ministry of Home Affairs, Clause 40 (xv) specifies: “Foreign nationals who are engaged in commercial sports events in India on a contract (including coaches) like Indian Premier League, Indian Soccer League, etc. with remuneration.
They may be granted ‘B-Sports’ Visa with multiple entry facility for 13 appropriate period. Such a foreign national shall comply with all the statutory obligations like payment of taxes, etc.”
Since B-Sports doesn't fall under the list of exceptions by the health ministry, it is unlikely that any overseas cricketer can join his IPL franchise before April 15.