India's Ravichandran Ashwin in action. Picture: REUTERS/DINUKA LIYANAWATTE
India's Ravichandran Ashwin in action. Picture: REUTERS/DINUKA LIYANAWATTE

Mumbai — India’s sports minister said on Sunday that any decision to allow the Indian Premier League (IPL) to go ahead in 2020 will be taken by the government, not the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI),  and would be based on how well the country has contained the novel coronavirus.

Sports minister Kiren Rijiju said the IPL will go ahead only if there is no risk to public health.

“In India the government has to take a call and it will be depending on the situation of the pandemic, how we progress as a nation,” Rijiju told the India Today television channel. “We can’t put health of the nation at risk just because we want sporting events to be held. Our focus is fighting Covid-19.”

The BCCI, the world’s richest cricket body, had said it will consider staging the lucrative IPL in October and November if the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Australia during those months, does not go ahead.

The IPL is worth almost $530m to the BCCI and attracts the best international and Indian cricketers. It was scheduled to start at the end of March but was indefinitely postponed because of the pandemic.

India had reported 132,755 infections from the new coronavirus, with 3,899 deaths by Sunday afternoon.