T20 WC still possible Down Under in October: Australian Sports Minister

Australian Sports Minister Richard Colbeck is confident that the T20 World Cup 2020 can still be staged Down Under as per its original schedule. The confidence exuded by the top sports authority in the country albeit is in sharp contrast to Cricket Australia’s earlier stand shared with the International Cricket Council.

While the governing body for cricket in Australia is itself in doubt about the status of hosting the T20 World Cup this year, Colbeck has told Indian sports publication Sportstar that the “World Cup Down Under could still be possible with restrictions on spectator numbers”.

“As Australia’s sports minister, I join with cricket fans around Australia in looking forward to welcoming the Indian squad ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. The Federal Government, along with the International Cricket Council and State Governments continue to work towards ensuring the event proceeds,” Colbeck told the sports publication of national daily The Hindu.

“The Australian Government is taking a strong and decisive approach in responding to COVID-19 based on the latest and best medical advice. It has led the way in flattening the curve of the pandemic and subsequently remains a fitting host for an international sporting spectacle. Australian States and territories are responsible for implementing arrangements regarding the resumption of sport in each jurisdictions. This may result in restrictions on spectator numbers – but in what capacity is not yet clear.”

The Minister has also hinted that there is little hope of spectators getting access to the matches if the World Cup goes ahead this year. “We are confident the T20 World Cup will be a thrilling showdown watched by a global audience – but we remain committed to the implementation and support of measures to keep players and spectators safe,” he said.

The matter of the T20 World Cup in Australia is on the agenda of the International Olympic Association Board teleconference slated for tomorrow.

Cricket Australia stand is unlikely to match the opinion of the Sports Minster as the host body for the T20 World Cup this year has already informed the ICC that due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was not in a position to conduct the 16-nation event on the originally scheduled dates.

If CA now toes line with the Australian sports minister, still there could be many ifs and buts before ICC and the participating nations agree to go ahead with the tournament during the Australian summer of 2020.

There remains little hope of a conclusive verdict on the World Cup during the teleconference tomorrow, which might witness another stormy debate over the “confidentiality issue” as the Chairman Shashank Manohar can table the report on the matter that had completely derailed the last meet on May 28.

Sportstar has also reported that Cricket Australia and the ICC T20 World Cup Local Organising Committee are consulting with the relevant Australian G0overnment agencies in the development of their biosecurity plan to support the resumption of professional cricket in Australia. This includes arrangements for the arrival of international teams, accommodation, training environments and venue logistics.

But to host 16 teams for an event across multiple venues is a much bigger challenge than playing bilateral series restricted to a couple of cities.

And if Australia manages to pull off the World Cup in October-November against all speculation, it can be a ₹ 4,000 crore blow to the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The BCCI is eyeing to grab the window created by the expected postponement of the World Cup for the Indian Premier League Season 13.

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