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“The Mumbai Indians won last year’s IPL. ©AFP” />
New Delhi (AFP) – The start of the Indian Premier League, the world’s most lucrative cricket competition, has been postponed from March 29 until April 15 over the coronavirus, the Indian cricket board said Friday.
Sports events worldwide have been upended by the deadly virus, including this weekend’s Formula One Australian Grand Prix as well as football and NBA basketball.
“The Board of Control for Cricket in India has decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15th April 2020, as a precautionary measure against the ongoing Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) situation,” the BCCI said in a statement.
The two-month Twenty20 competition is estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy and involves cricket’s top international stars like England’s Ben Stokes, Australia’s David Warner and Indian captain Virat Kohli.
Chinese mobile-maker Vivo paid $330 million to be the top sponsor for 2018-2022 for the league.
It involves eight franchises playing 60 matches to packed, raucous stadiums of tens of thousands of spectators — plus cheerleaders — all around India.
India has so far reported relatively few virus cases, but a jump to more than 70 in recent days and the first confirmed death have prompted authorities to discourage public events.