ICC postpones T20 World Cup due to Covid-19 pandemic

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The ICC has postponed the 2020 men’s T20 World Cup, a decision made because of the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision to put off the tournament, originally scheduled for October-November, was taken by the ICC Board on Monday. The board has also shifted the 2023 Men’s World Cup from the February-March window to October-November that year.

The board agreed to windows for three men’s events, with T20 World Cups in October-November 2021 and October-November 2022. One decision not yet made is in which order Australia and India will host the T20 World Cups. In the original calendar, India was scheduled to host the event in 2021 but Cricket Australia. (CA) has expressed a preference to host the postponed event next year. The Women’s World Cup, in New Zealand in February next year, has not yet been postponed, the ICC saying that planning for the event continues “as scheduled”.

Though it has taken some time, the announcement isn’t a surprise given that Cricket Australia had reiterated more than once that it was going to be difficult to host the tournament during the pandemic with 16 teams taking part. After the then CA chief executive Kevin Roberts had said in May that it was a “very high risk” to conduct the tournament, the CA chairman Earl Eddings echoed that pessimism in June, saying it was “unlikely” and “unrealistic” when the pandemic was “spiking” worldwide.

Australia has been relatively less affected by Covid-19 than most countries, with 3026 active cases as on Monday, but Melbourne and surrounding areas are currently back in lockdown and cases are rising in New South Wales amid concerns over a second wave. International borders, and quite a few state borders, remain closed other than for special cases.

With some of the participating countries including India, South Africa and Pakistan among the most severely affected by the pandemic, the risks of bringing together 16 teams from around the world and creating a bio-secure bubble are seen as too high.

On May 27, the ICC said in a media release that reports of “a postponement” of the T20 World Cup “are inaccurate and planning for the event continues whilst a number of contingency plans are being explored”. The ICC Board has met several times since April to discuss contingency planning and was meant to make a final decision on the T20 World Cup during a meeting on June 10, but eventually deferred the call. Monday’s Board meeting was attended by all the directors including the global body’s interim chairman Imran Khawaja and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly.