LPL 2021: SLC to allow double vaccinated spectators up to 50% stadium capacity
SLC confident they can keep the bubble secure with the tournament being staged in different venues unlike last edition
The SLC has confirmed that spectators will be allowed up to 50% of stadium capacity for the second edition of the Lanka Premier League, starting on Sunday.
Fans entering the stadium will need to be double vaccinated, with a period of at least two weeks having elapsed since receiving their second dose, Arjuna De Silva, the head of SLC's medical committee, revealed on Thursday. The board said that the tickets will be available for online purchase in the coming days.
"We have had discussions right along with the Ministry of Health, and they have agreed to give us 50% spectators," Arjuna said at a media briefing ahead of the tournament. "There is a new variant [Omicron], but that is immaterial, as we always follow the health guidelines. We are asking for spectators who have been double vaccinated for at least two weeks."
The ongoing Test series between Sri Lanka and the West Indies is the first instance of fans being allowed in a stadium in Sri Lanka since the pandemic last year.
Sri Lanka's bio-bubble protocols were successful during the last year's LPL, with no Covid-19 cases detected during the tournament - two cases were reported before its start. All the matches took place at a single venue last year. This time around, though, most of the games - including the playoffs - will take place at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, with the action switching to Hambantota for the start of the Eliminator and the final.
"There could be a problem when moving from venue to venue," Arjuna said. "That was the problem faced during the IPL, though that was also because many teams had to fly to different venues. But we're confident we can keep the bubble secure."
As per the Covid protocols, players will be tested every five days during the competition. Before entering the bubble, a player who is already in the country must do a PCR test 48 hours prior, and quarantine himself for 24 hours. Double vaccinated (by an SL/WHO-recognised vaccine) foreign players and local players flying in from abroad will be required to show a negative PCR test 48 hours before arrival, as well as an on-arrival PCR. They will also need to quarantine for three days after that.
Most of the protocols will remain the same for the non-vaccinated players too, except the quarantine period, which will be extended to six days. They will also need to undergo both a PCR and antigen test before entering the bubble.
"This is just to further ensure the safety of the players and the security of the bubble," Arjuna said.
SLC will also be obtaining the services of the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit, along with the Sri Lankan sports ministry's anti-corruption officers, to oversee the tournament.
"There are three anti-corruption officers, nominated by the ICC. There were anti-corruption officers last year as well," SLC CEO Ashley De Silva said.
When asked if there had been any anti-corruption breaches reported during the inaugural edition, Ashley said: "We have not been notified of any approaches last year. But we do have their [ICC] anti-corruption unit and the anti-corruption unit from the ministry [of sport] officiating in this year's tournament."
Although the inaugural edition of LPL had largely been deemed a success, the lead-up to the second season has faced significant hurdles. The tournament was postponed twice to avoid clashes with other T20 leagues around the world. And of the five franchises that competed in the first edition, three have been terminated by organisers, including the Jaffna Stallions franchise, who had won the first season. Colombo and Dambulla franchises are the other two to have been terminated.
Upon the defending champions' exit, the Stallions owners alleged mismanagement and a lack of transparency within the league. Earlier this week, the former owner of the Dambulla Giants made similar allegations.