After the Indian Premier League 2021 has been suspended due to growing COVID-19 cases within the bubbles, questions have risen about the security of the ‘bubbles’ in the first place. Cases have emerged in both cities of the ongoing leg – Ahmedabad and Delhi. KKR’s Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier tested positive in Ahmedabad, while CSK’s L Balaji and a travel staff tested positive in Delhi. SRH’s Wriddhiman Saha (in Delhi) and DC’s Amit Mishra (in Ahmedabad) too are reportedly positive.
How did the bubble burst? There have reportedly been no ‘breaches’, which makes one question the protocols and the definition of ‘bubble’.
Here are some key areas where the BCCI’s bubble system has proven inefficient this year.
MULTIPLE CITIES: In 2020, the IPL was held in only three venues – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Teams were based out of Dubai or Abu Dhabi. It made it easy for everyone involved to get into, and maintain, a bubble from start to end. However, IPL 2021 was scheduled to be held across six cities – Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. While the Chennai and Mumbai legs were completed without issues, the bubble burst in the second round in Ahmedabad and Delhi.
The IPL had decided to host the event in multiple venues to ensure no team gets home advantage. There were reports on Monday night that the tournament will be moved entirely to Mumbai, but the events of Tuesday ensured that wasn’t possible.
TRAVEL BY AIR: In 2020, there was no travel by air, apart from the initial travel from the respective countries to UAE. Once the quarantine was done initially, there was no flight travel. Teams moved around in private buses, and there was no exposure to public places. However, in 2021, with cities being so far away, there was no way teams could move around by road. Even though they went in chartered flights and had private entry and exit points, the safety measures of 2020 could not be guaranteed.
CENTRAL BIO BUBBLE: In IPL 2020, the bubble was made and executed by a UK-based IT and safety firm Restrata. According to Times of India, who quoted sources, the GPS technology to trace and track people in the bubble did not work properly this year. The report said Contact tracing was also manual, with Apollo Hospitals and the BCCI medical officer in charge. It proved inefficient.
HOTEL STAFF AND GROUNDSMEN: As per Times of India, ‘hotels were booked in a random manner’, with a few franchises not ensuring hotel staff were quarantined for 14 days before players arrived. The same was the case with groundsmen in grounds where the teams practised before and during the tournament.