Cricket

BCCI treasurer reveals how Novak Djokovic’s positive COVID-19 nearly called off the 2020 IPL.

Record viewership spikes and an INR 4000 Crore profit margin have validated the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) decision to organize the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Before the talks of the tournament started materializing, the BCCI had faced much flak from certain stakeholders. But some confident decision-making through board secretary Jay Shah ensured that the event went on as planned in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Record-breaking financial returns from the IPL 2020

The result is evident from the staggering broadcast figures; while the BCCI was able to mitigate its IPL expenses by 35%, the tourney still registered a 25% increase in viewership. Those figures, coupled with the INR 4000 Crore profit mentioned earlier, give a clear indication of the success story that the 2020 IPL has been. 

Over on a recent chat with The Indian Express, BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal recollects the challenges faced by the board to organize the tournament in a hassle-free manner. Dhumal reveals tennis player Novak Djokovic’s positive COVID results cast some serious doubts in the event-organizers’ heads.

“Djokovic’s COVID tests nearly canceled the tournament; all thanks to Jay Shah’s backing”- BCCI treasurer 

“After that report (about Djokovic testing positive) came in, we were in two minds. Many people told us to not go ahead with it (IPL). What if something happens to a player? The IPL would go on for almost three months. There were some major health risks involved,” he recalled. 

But it was all thanks to Jay Shah’s confidence that the mega-event went ahead successfully, says Dhumal. “However, Jay said we should go ahead, he was more confident than all of us. And it’s fair to say his gut-feel was correct.

The Board managed to cut nearly 35 percent of the cost compared to the last season. We earned Rs 4,000 crore during the pandemic time. Our TV viewership went about 25 percent higher.  Then we got the highest-ever opening game (Mumbai Indians versus Chennai Super Kings) viewership. Many positives. Those who doubted us came and thanked us for hosting the IPL. Had the tournament not happened, cricketers would have lost one year,” he concluded. 

While this unprecedented success story of the 2020 IPL deserves credit, the health-risk aspect did have some failures. Back in early September, even before the tournament had started; as many as 13 staff members of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team contracted the COVID-19 virus- including fast-bowler Deepak Chahar and opener Ruturaj Gaekwad. Both fans and the BCCI would look forward to perform better on these criteria in the upcoming 2021 edition.

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