The Indian Premier League (IPL) will continue its matches, its organizers announced on Sunday, but have come under heavy criticism for the plan as the country grapples with a massive increase in coronavirus cases.
The New Indian Express and a sister publication said on Sunday they decided to suspend its IPL coverage, while hundreds of fans slammed the league on social media.
An IPL board member told Reuters the league has “a strong bio-bubble” and is being played without fans, which makes it safe to continue.
“The IPL provides a much needed distraction for all of the sadness around us,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
“Yes, cases have increased in sites like Delhi, but we have two relief sites in Hyderabad and Indore and we would use them if needed.
“India’s COVID-19 case count jumped to 349,691 on Sunday, a new world record, and hospitals in Delhi and across the country are turning away patients after running out of medical oxygen and beds.
The Chennai-based New Indian Express said its decision to suspend coverage was “a small gesture to keep the nation’s attention focused on matters of life and death.”
Australia’s Adam Gilchrist, who led the late Deccan Chargers to their first IPL victory in 2009, also jumped into the debate.
“Best wishes to all in India. Scary Covid figures. #IPL continues. Inappropriate? Or a major distraction every night? Whatever your thoughts, prayers are with you, ”the former test player tweeted.
The number of infections in India stands at 16.96 million with 192,311 deaths.