NEW DELHI (AFP) – The Indian Premier League, the world’s richest Twenty20 cricket tournament, was suspended for safety reasons on Tuesday (May 4) as India battles a massive surge in coronavirus cases.

“The Indian Premier League Governing Council and Board of Control for Cricket in India in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone (the) IPL 2021 season, with immediate effect,” organisers said in a statement.

“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind,” it said.

The suspension, which follows growing controversy over the tournament, comes a day after two players tested positive, forcing a match to be postponed.

India is also due to host the Twenty20 World Cup in October and November.

The big-bucks IPL has been running since early April, even as India’s health care system has been overwhelmed by a vicious second wave of virus cases.

This prompted criticism from some who said the competition was inappropriate, while others defended it as a welcome distraction.

The players from the eight teams have been in strict bio-bubbles as matches take place in six cities including New Delhi and Mumbai, both badly hit by the pandemic.

“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the statement said.

“The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021.”

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