World Cup 2021: UAE on standby due to Covid in India, says ICC

Abdul Mohi Shah

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be on standby to host T20 World Cup as the International Cricket Council (ICC) is closely monitoring the unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases in India, which is the original host nation of the 2021 mega event.

The News’ has learnt that a high-level ICC delegation is on India tour these days to hold talks with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) over different issues directly linked with hosting of the World Cup in October-November this year.

“Though it is too early to think about shifting the mega event to the UAE, however the growing Covid-19 cases in India have forced the game’s governing body to make contingency plans. With less than six months to go, the ICC seems in no hurry to make any final decision which is expected to be taken much closer to the start of the event if the situation remains the same in India. The ICC is in close contact with the BCCI regarding important issues,” a source told ‘The News’.

Sri Lanka has also been mooted as an alternate option, but the UAE is a preferred choice mainly because of the easy access for all the participating teams, better Covid-19 situation and less population.

The Covid-19 situation in India has become alarming over the last two weeks with daily positive cases almost touching four lacs.

“Though the ICC is monitoring the situation on a daily basis, the decision to make any change in the host country is unlikely for the next three months. Hopefully, things will improve in India in the coming weeks,” the source added.

Talks are already underway between the BCCI and ICC over the host cities which could be nine in total. The newly raised Ahmedabad’s stadium which is the biggest in the world with a capacity of around 135,000 spectators is to host the final of the World Cup on November 13.

Other issues including the tax matters are also being discussed and expected to be finalised during the delegation’s stay in India. It is now a foregone conclusion that the Indian government has furnished a written NOC to issue visas to all participating teams including Pakistan for the World Cup. The deadline for the purpose has already expired on April 30.

World Cup 2021: UAE on standby due to Covid in India, says ICC