PSL Karachi matches to be held in empty stadium

From our correspondent

KARACHI: The HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020 received a huge blow when on Thursday it was announced that the upcoming Karachi-leg matches of the marquee domestic event will be held in front of the empty National Stadium here due to fear of deadly coronavirus.
“Following advice from the Sindh government late Thursday afternoon the PCB has made a decision to stage the upcoming Karachi HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 matches in front of empty National Stadium,” the PCB said on Thursday.
“The decision will be enforced from Friday, 13 March, while for the Thursday, 12 March, fixture, the PCB and the Sindh Government have strongly advised the spectators to continue to take all necessary precautionary measures,” the Board informed.
The Board said that the precautionary decision has been 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,” the Board said.
In the meantime, the PCB has advised all players to avoid shaking hands and have also urged the fans not to approach the players for autographs, photographs and selfies.
In addition to this, the PCB has decided the sides will 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.
“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,” the PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said.
“Following the advisory from the Government of Sindh this evening the PCB has taken this precautionary and preemptive measure which will result in matches taking place in front of empty stadium,” he said.
“We empathise with the Karachi fans who have been outstanding with their support in the earlier matches and during the hosting of eight HBLPSL matches last year. 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,” he conceded.
“The PCB has been regularly engaging with the teams and the players and have been updating them on matters. We have a duty of care to players and other stakeholders during this time; we would like to thank them for their continued trust and support,” he said.
“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,” he said.
“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,” the official added.
“With regards to the refunding of tickets this will be in line with the ticketing policy and will be refunded through TCS and Details in this regard will be shared in due course.”