KT edit: Safe haven status makes UAE the perfect IPL host
Cricket authorities in India understand and appreciate the Emirates' efforts to quickly bring the pandemic under control
Cricket fans should look no further than the UAE, a safe haven, their home ground during the pandemic. Health conditions are near perfect to host any sport in this country. Security is advanced and safety measures are in place. The country ticks all the boxes and gives cricket a wider playing field in these tragic times with uncertainty running wild across the world.
The UAE is set to score heavily if the Indian Premier League is staged here this year. Indications are that it will. Only the Indian government's nod is awaited, which appears to be a formality at this juncture considering the close ties the two governments and the people share. Hosting this year's edition of the IPL will put the UAE in a league of its own as it would have held the tournament twice. Cricket authorities in India understand and appreciate the Emirates' efforts to quickly bring the pandemic under control and have made the right choice by picking the UAE over Sri Lanka. Players and officials will be safer here and spectators could stream into stadiums if cases drop further by September.
IPL teams are sure to feel secure and can play without fearing the coronavirus that bowled a bouncer at the game's prospects. The UAE-India cricket relationship, in fact, goes back to the eighties when cricket was played in Sharjah. There is strong ring of familiarity about the Emirates for cricketers who know the playing conditions and the people. The infrastructure is world class - stadiums, hotels and facilities, for hosting a tournament this size that lasts seven weeks. More importantly, this country has the expertise - it played host to the tournament in 2014. Twenty matches were staged in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah that year.
Officials of the Emirates Cricket Board are working closely with their Indian counterparts. In times like these, cricket could serve to lift the gloom; the emotional connect between the two countries also grows stronger. For the Indian cricket board, the IPL is a major draw because of the revenues it brings to the coffers. It would have lost $500 million had this year's tournament been struck off the calendar. The IPL's planned revival ushers hope for the game and could set a template on how future tournaments should be played during the pandemic and the post-Covid era. Players who were forced to put their careers on hold now have a chance to shake off the dust and prove their talent. Finally, the tournament makes business sense to both the UAE and Indian cricket boards while aiding economic recovery. This year's IPL has all the makings of a winner.