The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has allowed bubble to bubble transfers for the Indian Premier League — which begins in April. This means the players, who are currently featuring in the India-England series, can directly enter the respective IPL bubbles without undergoing quarantine.
In a Standard Operating Procedure issued to the teams — which Sportstar has seen — the Board has specified that “players coming directly from the bubble created for the India versus England series, maybe permitted to join their franchise squad without serving the mandatory quarantine period, provided they satisfy the criteria of moving directly to the franchise team hotel in the team bus or on a chartered flight.”
The SOP also clarified that if chartered flights are used, then all the protocols need to be maintained and if the BCCI’s chief medical officer is satisfied with the process, players “can directly enter the franchise bubble without” quarantine or an RT-PCR test.
A total of 12 bubbles will be created – eight for the teams and support staff, two for match officials and the management teams and the other two for commentators and crew.
However, the BCCI officials will not be part of the bubble and as a result, they cannot directly meet the players, support staff or commentators. According to guidelines, if the team owners want to be part of the bubble, they need to undergo a seven-day quarantine.
Similar to last year, the Board will have at least four integrity officers with the teams, who will look into the breaches and the people entering the bubble will be given trackers.
– NO VACCINATION YET –
The Board also clarified that for now, it won’t be possible to vaccinate the players — a demand raised by some of the franchises. “In India, the first group to get vaccinated against COVID-19 included healthcare and frontline workers. The second group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be persons over 60 years of age as of January 1st, 2022, and persons between 45 and 59 years with comorbid conditions. The Government of India is yet to announce the schedule for vaccination of other groups of people including elite athletes.”
– CHARTERED FLIGHTS –
According to the 50-page SOP, the BCCI has also suggested that the teams could travel via chartered flights for domestic travel during the tournament.
The tournament will begin in Mumbai and then will be played across other venues — Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Delhi, Ahmedabad. And to ensure there is no breach, the Board stated: “In order to maintain the sanctity of bio-secure environments, charter flights will be booked for all the teams and match officials for domestic travel within India.”
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“Mandatory COVID-19 RT-PCR tests for the pilots and cabin crew 24 hours prior and on the morning of the scheduled departure is necessary. Testing will be conducted by the BCCI-accredited agency. The pilots and cabin crew will quarantine at the team hotel outside the bubble zone for 48 hours before the scheduled departure,” the SOP added.
– CHANGE OF CLOTHES-
While fans will not be allowed for the initial stages, there is a guideline in case there is a pitch invasion by a spectator.
“If during a match or practice session, any spectator or fan manages to enter the field of play and momentarily come in physical contact with a player, they will be immediately removed by security guards. At the earliest opportunity, the player must change his clothes and put away the used ones in a separate bag for disinfection and laundry,” the SOP stated.
“Also, the player must wash his hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds before meeting other team members in his bubble. If the pitch invader has touched any of the player’s cricketing equipment, the same must be sanitised before use,” it added.
The substitute players carrying drinks during the match will also have to sanitise their hands prior to the drinks break.