Stranded Australian cricketers to flee Covid crisis in India via Maldives or Sri Lanka | IPL

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Australia’s cricketers will escape the worsening Covid-19 situation in India by flying to Sri Lanka or the Maldives before taking a chartered flight home once the government’s controversial travel ban is lifted.

Cricket Australia and the players’ union said on Wednesday they were working on arrangements to repatriate the group of 38 players, coaches and staff who remain in India as quickly and as safely as possible.

But coach Mike Hussey, who has tested positive for the virus, will have to remain in India to see out a period of isolation in a hotel room.

“What we and the BCCI are working to do is to move the entire cohort out of India, where they will then wait until it’s possible to return to Australia,” CA chief executive Nick Hockley said.

“The BCCI has been working on a range of options. That’s now narrowed down to the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The BCCI are working through the final details of that at the moment and we expect that movement will happen in the next two to three days.”

The BCCI – India’s board of control for cricket – is committed to both phases of the cohort’s repatriation, Hockley said, including the second stage which would involve chartering a flight back to Australia.

Hockley said no special requests had been made and denied the cricketers, who had gone to India to play in the lucrative Twenty-20 competition knowing the potential risks they faced, were receiving preferential treatment.

“We’re not seeking any kind of special exemptions whatsoever,” he said. “Any kind of quarantine arrangements would be over and above the cap. So our priority is to work with the Australian government and the relevant state governments to make sure that we’re not taking spaces of anyone else that’s available.”

Todd Greenberg, chief executive of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, said chartering a flight two years ago, before the pandemic, would have elicited “a different type of commentary than what we would see today”.

“The reality is we’re going to try to keep them as safe as possible and if that’s available, I don’t think we should shy away from that,” Greenberg said.

On Tuesday, Test great Hussey became the first of the Australian cohort in India to return a positive Covid test, with the Chennai Super Kings’ batting coach unable to flee the unfolding crisis.

“He is in good spirits,” Greenberg said. “His symptoms are relatively mild. He is in a stint of isolation in his hotel room for around 10 days. He has good support systems around him.”

Following Tuesday’s announcement that the IPL would be suspended, with no plans to recommence the competition, the Australian cohort were left wondering how and when they will be able to return home. It was a situation that had “created a lot of anxiety”.

“They signed up for India and they signed up with their eyes wide open about some of the challenges and risks when they went in,” Greenberg said. “What they didn’t expect was the borders to be closed. That created anxiety for them, just like it would create anxiety for the 9,000-odd Australians over there looking to come home.

“They’re very hopeful the government will reopen after the 15th but we’re under no illusion that’s a decision the government has to make and hopefully they will to not only get our cricketers home but more Australians as well.”

Amid the worsening Covid-19 crisis in India, where coronavirus infections surged past 20m on Tuesday, the IPL’s previously biosecure bubble was finally burst this week. Four IPL franchises reported positive tests to players or staff, including a number of teams containing Australians. Many were placed in isolation, including Steve Smith and Test vice-captain Pat Cummins.

Those players in isolation will have to return a number of negative tests before they are allowed to leave India.

Australia’s deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, said the government would “potentially” lift the travel ban on 15 May. “We said all along we will review the pause in travel arrangements and that’s what we’re doing, so be patient,” McCormack told the Nine Network.

India’s total active cases stand at 3.45m, with 357,229 new infections recorded on Tuesday, while deaths rose by 3,449 to 222,408.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Stranded Australian cricketers to flee Covid crisis in India via Maldives or Sri Lanka | IPL

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