India has reacted with fury at the IPL’s ‘grotesque’ decision to continue playing in Delhi, despite the city being ravaged by a horrific new wave of Covid-19, with deaths mounting and their healthcare system on the brink of collapse.
As hundreds scramble around the city desperately searching for hospital beds and many turn to witch doctors in a bid to survive the pandemic, the likes of Jos Buttler and Indian stars Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumra took to the field on Thursday.
Rajasthan Royals against the Mumbai Indians is the latest IPL clash to take place at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in the middle of Delhi, with ‘tone-deaf’ officials continuing to plough on with the season despite the pandemic.
Incredibly, the cricket venue being used is directly opposite Delhi’s largest Covid hospital – LNJP – which just days ago was reported to have just 2 hours of oxygen supply left and is forcing patients to share beds.
Delhi has been ravaged by Covid, with bodies piling up in the streets and deaths out of control
A man runs past funeral pyres in the city after 3,645 death were recorded in the last 24 hours
IPL cricket, meanwhile, is being played at a stadium directly opposite the city’s Covid hospital
Fans have slammed the decision to continue with the IPL despite the Covid crisis in Delhi
India’s Covid crisis shows no sign of slowing with 379,257 new cases and 3,645 new deaths in the last 24 hours, both record tolls, and Delhi is the epicentre of the virus in the country.
One editor, writing for Indian digital news service Scroll.in, labelled the IPL a ‘grotesque spectacle’ this week, with cricketers continuing to live and work in their biosecure bubble away from the reality of Covid in the city.
Pressure is continuing to mount on the cricket authorities to suspend the season, with many fans arguing that the stadium should be used in the Covid relief efforts rather than for sport.
Thursday’s match saw both Chris Morris and Sharma in action, two of the IPL’s biggest earners with the former on £1.6million a year and the latter earning £1.5m.
Rajasthan Royals took on the Mumbai Indians on Thursday, inside their Covid-secure bubble
A mass cremation is prepared in Delhi as the victims continue to rise in the latest Covid wave
Another cricket fan asked with India was ‘out of its mind’ as they continue with the season
Other fans have questioned the decision to carry on with IPL in the face of the Covid crisis
While people are dying on the roadside, millionaire cricketers are still playing in the IPL
India reported 379,257 new Covid cases today, pushing its seven-day average to 350,000 (left), while another 3,645 deaths were logged as the pandemic continues to worsen
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FC Goa’s foreign football players and head coach will cut short their Asian Champions League stints to return home amid the country’s Covid crisis.
Captain Edu Bedia, defender Ivan Gonzalez, midfielder Jorge Ortiz, head coach Juan Ferrando and conditioning coach Javi Gonzalez – all Spaniards – plus Australia’s James Donachie are among the contingent leaving India over fears that further delays could result in them being locked down in the country.
A senior official for The Board of Control for Cricket in India, though, has insisted that the IPL is providing much-needed relief during the country’s toughest times.
‘It’s probably more important now to hold IPL, when there is so much negativity around,’ the official said, as reported by The Guardian.
‘We should not underestimate the power of sport to spread positivity. At least fans are absorbed in it at home. Otherwise many of them will step out without masks.
‘The league generates considerable money for the economy. It has to be seen from that context, too. How does stopping IPL help?’
Outside Delhi, meanwhile, Indians are turning to witch doctors who are branding them with hot irons in a vain attempt to cure Covid as the infection spreads from urban centres to rural villages where healthcare is often non-existent.
Dr Ashita Singh, head of medicine at Chinchpada Christian Hospital in a remote part of Maharashtra state which houses the infection epicenter of Mumbai, said she is seeing increasing numbers of patients arriving with branding marks given to them by witch doctors to drive out ‘spirits’ they believe cause the infection.
Opposite the city’s largest Covid hospital, millionaire cricketers continued to play in the IPL
The hospital opposite the cricket ground came within two hours of running out of oxygen this week, before supplies arrived to save the lives of hundreds of desperate patients
Men stand outside an oxygen refilling facility in Delhi, India on Thursday morning
A mass funeral takes place for Covid-19 victims in Delhi, following a huge surge in deaths
Others rely on herbal cures while some have fled their villages out of fear of demons which they believe are spreading the disease, which is helping the infection to spread further and faster.
India’s overall Covid death toll is now officially well over 200,000 – the world’s fourth highest after the US, Brazil and Mexico – but investigations suggest the true death toll could be double that.
This is due to the official figure only including those who die in hospitals – which are currently overwhelmed, leaving patients to die at home or in the streets.
A patient waits in an ambulance outside hospital in Jaipur as India’s healthcare system buckles
Bodies are lined up for cremation at a site in New Delhi on Wednesday morning
A number of top players, including Adam Zampa (left) and Kane Richardson (right) have quit
Cricket fans, meanwhile, have been left furious at the news that IPL players arriving into Delhi have separate check-in counters, and are being rushed through the airport to their bio-secure bubble.
On top of that, Scroll.in report that an ambulance is being held back from Covid-19 relief efforts to be on standby for IPL cricketers in case they suffer an injury and need treatment during a match.
In Delhi currently, it has been reported that one in three people being tested for coronavirus in the city are returning positive results, with hospitals overwhelmed and patients left to die in the streets.