2020 saw a lot of sports taking an unexpected break due to the raging epidemic caused by the coronavirus which originated in China. For Indians, cricket is like a religion and the thought of going an entire year without their favourite sport was discomforting. However, the Indian Premier League (IPL 2020) saw things change as they headed over to UAE and were introduced to the concept of a bio bubble.
Here, we bring you all the details of the bio bubble and its role in the IPL 2020 matches.
A bio bubble is a sanitised area that is sealed for outsiders and secured only for specific approved people. In the case of IPL 2020, the bubble is secured for the players and match officials as well as the pre-approved support staff. People inside the bubble are not allowed to interact with people outside to avoid spreading the risk of infection, thereby creating a safe and healthy environment.
All people entering the bio bubble are tested for COVID-19 and are allowed in only if they test negative. They are then placed in quarantine and are allowed access only to the area within the bio bubble, such as the cricket ground, hotel, transport cars, etc. In case anyone tests positive, they are not allowed to enter the bio bubble and have to repeat the procedure till they test negative.
A lot of people were left wondering ‘what is a bio bubble?’ and how it will impact players’ interaction with fans. As cricketers are greatly loved and admired, fans are always eager for any chance to interact with them. Owing to the bio bubble, however, no interaction of players is allowed with fans or any person outside their immediate circle.
While, for a lot of people, the concept of the bio bubble is new, it has been used in other sports as well. NBA, the popular American basketball league, successfully implemented the bio bubble during their games and reported a consistent negative report for all their players. Besides, the English Cricket Board (ECB) and the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) have also managed to make use of the bio bubble successfully. Formula 1 and the US open have adopted the bio bubble technique but are still battling COVID-19 cases.
In an attempt to ensure maximum safety for the players, support staff, and fans, the BCCI has created four critical bio bubble environments. These include training sessions, matches, hotels, and transportation.
To further reduce the risk of infection, each of these bio bubbles is further segregated for different people. There are designated zones created for each group of people such as players, hotel staff, match officials, team support staff, etc. Each individual is required to stay within their respective zone itself. Families of players that are travelling with them are issued similar guidelines but are not allowed to travel with the players or leave their designated areas of the bio bubble. Additionally, basic guidelines such as social distancing and masks have to be adhered to even within the bio bubble.
The bio bubble is an enclosed space but it is not impenetrable. With so many players and officials gathering in one place, ensuring strict adherence to rules is critical. In this regard, the IPL Governing Council has announced that any breach of the biosecure bubble by any individual will be punishable under the IPL Code of Conduct Rules.
Violations for any breach of the bio bubble will result in the following penalties:
A player caught breaching the bio bubble rules will be charged with the following as per a notification by the BCCI.
A six-day quarantine for an unauthorised departure from the bubble as the first offence.
A second offence will lead the player to be suspended for one match.
A third violation will lead to his removal from the tournament and no replacement will be provided to the team.
Also, in case a player misses a scheduled COVID-19 test, is found without a GPS tracker, or ends up not completing the medical check-ups, they could be penalised by up to 3000 AED or 60,000 INR. For family members travelling with the players, these same rules will apply.
Along with the player, the team may also find themselves in a fix if the bio bubble or the designated zones within the bubble are breached. Any incorrect interaction could lead to the following penalties for the team:
1. Any unacceptable interaction will result in a 1 crore INR fine as the first offence for the franchise.
2. A second offence will result in the loss of one point for the team.
3. A third offence will lead to a loss of two points, as much as a win, for the team.
In case a team is unable to play a match due to a team of fewer than 12 players, the BCCI will try and reschedule the match. If that is not possible, the match will be deemed lost.