Indian cricket board confirms IPL suspended until further notice

A team official told AFP on Wednesday the IPL would be indefinitely postponed, but that they would 'find a window in the later end of the year to do it'.

FILE: Mumbai Indians players celebrate a wicket against Chennai Super Kings during their nail-biting Indian Premier League final on 12 May 2019. Picture: @mumbaiindians/Facebook.com.

NEW DELHI, India - The world's richest cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League, has been suspended until further notice because of the coronavirus, the sport's governing body confirmed on Thursday.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said the Twenty20 competition, already pushed back from its original start date of 29 March to 15 April, was "suspended till further notice" and "will only commence when it is safe and appropriate to do so".

"The health and safety of the nation and everyone involved in our great sport remains our top priority," the BCCI added in a statement.

"BCCI will continue to monitor and review the situation regarding a potential start date."

A team official told AFP on Wednesday the IPL would be indefinitely postponed, but that they would "find a window in the later end of the year to do it".

India's government this week extended a three-week lockdown until at least May 3.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on sporting tournaments, with the International Olympic Committee and Japan last month taking the historic decision to delay the Olympics by a year.

Cricketers turned pundits, including England's Kevin Pietersen, had suggested that the glitzy tournament be shortened from its usual eight-week duration and played behind closed doors.

The league is a huge revenue-earner for the BCCI and is estimated to generate more than $11 billion a year for the Indian economy.

The participation of the world's top cricketers has attracted big money. Chinese mobile phone maker Vivo had put up $330 million to be the league's top sponsor for 2018-2022.

Australian pace bowler Pat Cummins was to be the most expensive overseas star this year with Kolkata Knight Riders in December agreeing a $2.17 million fee for his services.