IPL organisers reject criticism, say cricket lifts COVID gloom

The Indian Premier League (IPL) will continue as scheduled, a senior Indian cricket board official has told Reuters news agency, despite fierce criticism of the popular Twenty20 competition being played in the midst of a national health crisis.

India’s death toll surged past 200,000 on Wednesday and at least 300,000 people a day have tested positive for the virus over the last week as a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic grips the world’s second-most populous nation.

In a fevered social media debate over whether the IPL show should go on, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been accused of being “tone-deaf” for its stance.

The senior BCCI official, however, said the cricket was providing important solace and entertainment to many people during hard times, even though fans are not being allowed into stadiums to watch the games. The tournament is watched by millions of viewers on television.

“It’s probably more important now to hold IPL, when there is so much negativity around,” the official told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

“We should not underestimate the power of sport to spread positivity. At least fans are absorbed in it at home. Otherwise many of them will step out without masks.

“The league generates considerable money for the economy. It has to be seen from that context too. How does stopping IPL help?”

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