The Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI), in an elaborate document, stated the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and bio-secure protocols to be followed for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021.
The BCCI has allowed the bubble to bubble transfers ahead of the tournament. This would mean that players taking part in the India-England series can join their IPL teams without having to undergo another quarantine.
Also, the South Africa players taking part in the upcoming ODIs against Pakistan can join their respective teams directly and hence, might not miss any games.
All the others - be it players, franchise owners, officials, commentators and match officials - will have to undergo a strict seven-day quarantine before entering the bubble.
"Players coming directly from the Bubble created for the India vs. England series, may be permitted to join the franchise squad without serving the mandatory quarantine period, provided they satisfy the criteria of moving directly to the franchise team hotel either in the team bus or on a chartered flight," the BCCI stated in a note.
"If chartered flights are used then all protocols for crew members must be followed. If the travel arrangements are to the satisfaction of the BCCI Chief Medical Officer then such players will directly enter the franchise team Bubble without the need to serve a quarantine period or undergo an RT-PCR test," the note added.
BCCI notifies that a total of 12 bio-bubbles will be present for IPL 2021
For the 14th edition of the IPL, a total of 12 bubbles will be in place. The 8 participating teams, including the support staff, will make up eight bubbles. Two bubbles are for the match officials and match management teams. The other two bubbles will comprise the commentators and the crew.
Also, BCCI officials and the operations team will not be a part of any bubble. Hence, there won't be any interactions between BCCI officials and the members that are part of any of the 12 bubbles.
Four security staff for each team and wrist bands for all the players
The BCCI will appoint four security staff, designated as the Bubble Integrity Managers, for each IPL team. They will be a part of the bubble and will travel with the team for the entire season.
"Their job will be to report any bio-secure environmental protocol breaches by members of the franchise team to the BCCI Chief Medical Officer," the note said.
Also, every member of the bubble will be provided a tracking device in the form of wristbands by the BCCI. This should be worn at all times and the band will help track those in close contact in the last 48 hours if someone returns with a COVID positive result.
Vaccination not possible for those involved in the league
While the BCCI noted that vaccinating everyone taking part in the tournament is not possible, they said that precautions will be taken to contain the spread of the virus.
"The vaccination program against COVID-19 is underway in India and vaccines are currently being administered to the at-risk population viz. front-line workers, health care professionals, people over the age of 60 years and those between the ages of 45-59 years who have comorbidities like cardiac ailments, diabetes, cancer, etc. Until most of the population is vaccinated and immune to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, precautions will need to be taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the community," the note said.
Low chances of virus transmission through cricket balls
The BCCI note further stated that there is a very low chance of transmission of Coronavirus through cricket balls.
Yet, according to the SOPs, every time a ball goes into the stands or out of the ground, it will be replaced with a new ball. The old ball will be sanitized and placed in the library of balls.
However, the BCCI has made it clear that there should be no application of saliva on the cricket balls.
"New scientific study of cricket balls as potential vectors of the novel coronavirus showed the risk of transmission to be very low. If the cricket ball goes in the stands or outside the stadium, the 4th umpire will provide a replacement from the library of cricket balls. The previous ball, when returned, will be sanitized with alcohol-based wipes and/or UV-C by the 4th umpire and placed in the library."
Entry guidelines for arrivals in Mumbai and Chennai
The BCCI shared the guidelines for arrivals in Mumbai and Chennai - the two cities hosting the first leg of IPL 2021.
Entry in Mumbai: All passengers arriving from the UK, Middle East, South Africa, Brazil and Europe must undergo mandatory institutional quarantine for seven days in Mumbai at their own cost. Exemptions can be sought through government-issued guidelines. However, there is no quarantine for domestic passengers.
Entry in Chennai: Anyone looking to enter Tamil Nadu from other Indian states and union territories will be required to submit a mandatory e-pass issued by the government of Tamil Nadu. All international passengers entering the state either through direct flights or from other Indian states and union territories will be required to submit the mandatory e-pass issued by the Government of Tamil Nadu.