Airport Exposure, Outside Food Delivery: How The IPL 2021 Bio-Bubble Was Breached





A week back the Indian Premier League (IPL) chief executive told the players to play for “humanity” and assured them that they were “totally safe” within the confines of the tournament’s biosecure bubble. A week on, the bubble has burst, the tournament postponed indefinitely with the franchises and the BCCI standing to lose over Rs 2000 crore. A spate of positive cases among players and staff led to IPL 2021 being postponed on Tuesday. So, what caused the bio-bubble breach?

The bio-bubble in UAE for IPL 2020 was managed by Restrata, a professional company well versed in tracking devices and bio-secure solutions. This time, the IPL decided to go local, leaving matters in the hands of hospital vendors and testing labs, which were expected to replicate the process.

Air travel was the biggest worry as IPL 2021 was scheduled to be held across six cities. NDTV has learned two players and one team coach contracted COVID-19 while travelling through the airport terminus. Teams had demanded tarmac access from state governments, which was denied, thus risking the players. In UAE, there was no air travel.

The tracking device worn by players were at times faulty. They were purchased from a Chennai-based company that failed to live up to the standards, hence forcing BCCI to only make assumptions on where and how players could have contracted the dreaded virus.

There was a big question over testing and quarantine protocols of people outside the bubble who were essential for running the tournament. These people include ground staff, hotel staff, ground catering, net bowlers, DJs and drivers. Multiple cities meant a larger cluster of people who kept changing.

The processes of management were more robust in the UAE

Until the last week food delivery from outside was allowed.

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BCCI left it to each franchise to create its own bubble for players, members, and staff, instead of a central agency like IMG managing the tournament.

Despite the Covid cases rising in India, the BCCI top brass was determined to have the tournament in the country. The IPL governing council and the franchises had proposed a move to the UAE, like last year.

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