Alarmed by a large number of COVID-19 positive test results of IPL-bound players/personnel, official broadcaster STAR India has quickly amended its original plans and asked its crew members to get themselves tested immediately and reach the United Arab Emirates (UAE) much ahead of the September 19 start of the worlds most lucrative cricket competition.
As per the latest STAR India instructions circulated amongst personnel likely to be part of its production teams, several persons took COVID-19 tests on Saturday while the others would be doing it on Sunday or on Monday.
Emirates, which will be flying the production team members to the UAE, has advised the Indian personnel to go to the Indian Council of Medical Research-accredited laboratories in different cities for the tests.
The results of these tests would be known in a couple of days. And those who return negative tests would immediately take an Emirates flight to reach the UAE, and go into two-week quarantine there, said sources. They wouldn’t have to worry about their visas and tickets as that would be arranged by STAR India.
“Some of us have taken the COVID-19 test on Saturday after we were informed by STAR bosses of the re-jigged plan after more than 10 personnel associated with the IPL teams tested positive, confirmed by the BCCI on Saturday. We have been instructed to be on standby to take the flights, starting as early as August 30, after getting a negative Covid test report,” a senior member of the production team told IANS.
Members of the production team, many of whom are freelancers from various countries, have been asked to carry a hard copy of the negative Covid-19 test report and also email the report to their immediate superiors. All the personnel will have to undergo another Covid-19 Test on landing at an airport in the UAE, followed by a two-week quarantine.
Three production crews would be formed – one each for Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi – to cover the IPL. Each one remains stationed in each UAE emirate as their COVID protocols differ from each other.
But since the BCCI hasn’t released the IPL scheduled so far – the Coronavirus pandemic is another reason – STAR India too hasn’t been able to finalise their crews. Each crew is likely to comprise 70-80 personnel, and most of these are expected to be from India, as usual.
The source pointed out that the final strength of the crews would depend on the number of personnel eventually available after the results of the Covid tests have come in. “If the number of desired people, who will come from across the world, are finally not available, the strength may be reduced, possibly along with the number of the cameras used for a match. But the reduction would not impact the quality of the coverage and viewers wouldn’t be able to make out that a reduced team is producing the coverage of the same high quality,” he said.
Usually, 35 cameras are used to cover a big match, like that of the IPL.
The BCCI on Saturday confirmed that 13 personnel, including two unnamed players who are to play in IPL, have tested positive for COVID-19. The BCCI didn’t reveal the identities of the personnel or their team(s).
The BCCI has only announced that the IPL would be played from September 19 to November 10. But the match schedule is still awaited.
STAR in September 2017 won the IPL rights by bidding Rs 16,347.50 crore for five years.