Indian government to decide fate of IPL, not cricket board - minister

India's junior home minister Rijiju pauses during an interview with Reuters inside his office in New Delhi

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's sports minister on Sunday said any decision to allow the Indian Premier League to go ahead this year would be taken by the government, not the Indian cricket board, and would be based on how well the country has contained the novel coronavirus.

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said the IPL would go ahead only if there was no risk to public health.

"In India the government has to take a call and it will be depending on the situation of the pandemic, how we progress as a nation," Rijiju told the India Today television channel.

"We can't put health of the nation at risk just because we want sporting events to be held. Our focus is fighting COVID-19."

The BCCI, the richest cricket body in the world, had said it would consider staging the lucrative IPL in October/November if the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Australia during those months, did not go ahead.

The IPL is worth almost $530 million to the BCCI and attracts the best international and Indian cricketers. It was scheduled to start at the end of March but was indefinitely postponed because of the pandemic.

India has reported 131,868 infections from the new coronavirus, with 3,867 deaths.


(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Stephen Coates)