Almost three weeks after its inauguration on April 9 the New Indian Express became the first media-house to suspend the coverage of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches—obviously because of the grave challenge the country is facing.
The newspaper announced: “India is going through its worst phase of the COVID pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling, many in vain, to exercise their right to live, as a ramshackle universal health care system proves that it has no answers to the challenges posed by a creepy bug. The health ministry’s daily bulletin of fresh positive cases and fatalities has hit the stratosphere, so have SOS messages from individuals and hospitals seeking oxygen refill and life-saving medicines. Hospitals refuse fresh admissions for want of COVID beds. The rush at crematorium is heart-breaking. Most of us already have friends or relatives who have succumbed to COVID-19 or battling for life. In such a tragic time, we find it incongruous that the festival of cricket is on in India, with layers of bio bubbles creating protection. This is commercialism gone crass. The problem is not with the game but its timing. Cricket, too, must accept that we are passing through an unprecedented crisis. In the circumstances, the New Indian Express has decided to suspend IPL coverage in the newspaper with immediate effect till a semblance of normalcy is restored. This is a small gesture towards keeping the nation’s attention focused on life and death issues. We are sure that our readers will see the point. These are times when we must stand as one nation with one resolve.”
Not only that a couple of Australian cricketers have returned to their country and one of them, Andrew Tye, questioned the wisdom of holding the matches when India is passing through the worst health crisis.
Another Australian player Pat Cummins has donated $50,000 to PM Cares Fund ‘to purchase oxygen supplies for India’s hospitals’.
David Hussey, a former Australian cricketer and an assistant coach with the Kolkata Knight Riders, said: “Everyone’s sort of a bit nervous about whether they can get back into Australia. I dare say there’ll be a few other Australians a bit nervous about getting back into Australia”.
Another Australian legend Adam Gilchrist tweeted: “Best wishes to all in India Frightening Covid numbers. #IPL continues. Inappropriate? Or important distraction each night? Whatever your thoughts, prayers are with you”.
Strangely, all the six IPL centres are the hotspots of corona virus and are either under night curfew or lockdown.
The Newsweb is among the rarest portals to question the wisdom of holding this tournament and a number of other cricketing events in the month of March, which included Tests, ODIs, and Twenty20s with England. It was under pressure from some people that the later matches were barred for the spectators and money returned.
Besides, a tournament, named Unacademy Road Safety World Series, was organised between 7 and 21 March where legends from various countries took part. Sachin Tendulkar tested positive a week after taking part in it.
These shows were held even when the second wave of the pandemic started knocking at the door of the country in February itself.