LAHORE/KARACHI - Pakistan Cricket Board on Thursday decided that the upcoming Pakistan Super League matches in Karachi would be played in front of empty National Stadium. The decision was taken following the advice from the Sindh government, officials said Thursday afternoon.

According to government officials, the decision will be enforced from Friday (today) while for the Thursday’s match, the PCB and the Sindh Government strongly advised the spectators to continue to take all necessary precautionary measures.

The precautionary decision was made to better protect the health and safety of the spectators, players, officials and media. The decision will not impact accredited commercial partners, media and other service providers, who will be allowed to enter the National Stadium.

In addition, immediate families of the competing players and player support personnel as well as franchise owners will be allowed to attend matches. In the meantime, the PCB advised all players to avoid shaking hands and also urged the fans not to approach the players for autographs, photographs and selfies.

In addition to this, the PCB decided both the sides would not be required to shake hands with each other or opposition in the lead up to and during the matches and use a fist bump/verbal greeting instead.

PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said: “Health and safety is paramount and takes precedence over cricket. The PCB takes the health and safety of its players, spectators, officials, media, service providers and security personnel very seriously. “Following the advisory from the Government of Sindh this evening, the PCB has taken this precautionary and pre-emptive measure which will result in matches taking place in front of empty stadium.

“We empathise with the Karachi fans. Once we received the advisory from the government of Sindh, it was important for us to act quickly to ensure that the wellbeing of all concerned is better protected.

 

“The initial 10 March decision to proceed with the Karachi leg of matches was taken following consultation with the Sindh Government and we have taken on board their latest advisory. We stated at the outset that we will work closely and take the lead from the local Governments. “With regards to the remaining fixtures in Lahore, we are already in contact with the Punjab Government and will take on board its advisory in relation to the Lahore matches. “With regards to the refunding of tickets, this will be in line with the ticketing policy and will be refunded through TCS and www.yayvo.com. Details in this regard will be shared in due course.”

 

Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while taking a policy decision said that all the PSL matches in the National Stadium, except of Thursday, would be played without spectators.

 

“This is a high risk to allow the spectators to gather in the stadium to witness the matches and we can’t put everyone at the risk. Therefore matches would be held without spectators.”

 

He took the decision while presiding over the meeting of Taskforce on coronavirus at the CM House.

Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shahlwani while briefing the chief minister said that it was high risk to allow such a huge gathering at the stadium.

 

The chief minister said that under such circumstances matches all over the world were held in closed-door stadiums- means without spectators. “Therefore, I am taking the decision that in the next matches spectator would not be allowed and matches would be played in the closed-door stadium,” he said.

 

Murad directed the commissioner to convey the decision to the PCB authorities. The commissioner on his mobile phone informed the PCB authorities. Murad said that as a nation our preparedness to contain coronavirus threat is weak, unorganized, and without national guidance.

“We are not prepared to face the coronavirus endemic because the provinces, particularly Sindh has been left alone to take decision whatever it wants but there is no guidance from the federal government and this is dangerous,” he complained.

 

He said that 14 cases were detected in Sindh because the dedicated team was running from pillar to post to catch up the persons who had the travel history of virus hit states.

 

The chief minister said that he matters pertaining to the closing of borders, closing or opening of educational institutions, strict checking measure at the airports, quarantine arrangements, travelling of pilgrims from Taftan to up-country were some of the decisions which would have been taken on national level. “Only Sindh and Balochistan have closed educational institutions and we are also taking such decisions in isolation,” he regretted.

 

He said that 2683 pilgrims from Pakistan were in quarantine at Taftan, Balochistan border, of them 853 belonged to Sindh and they would start arriving in the province from Friday evening.

 

The chief minister said that 932 pilgrims of Sindh were identified and they all were in Iran. He added that out of 2683 pilgrims at Taftan, 853 belonged to Sindh and their first batch would start arriving from tomorrow evening for which necessary arrangements have been made at Sukkur.