ICC will take bubble break during tournament “very seriously”
The ICC is hosting its first world championship since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic when the 2021 T20 World Cup for men begins on October 17. The 16-team tournament is played in the UAE and Oman, countries with some of the highest proportions of the population vaccinated against Covid-19. In fact, the UAE, which will host some of the first round games and then the entire Super 12s and knockouts, is at the top of the list of countries with the highest percentage of vaccinated population – with 94% receiving at least one plug.
But as Alex Marshall, head of integrity and biosecurity at the ICC, says holding a multi-team event across four venues in two countries is a “complex” issue with more moving parts and more safety measures needed to keep all participants safe both physically and mentally.
The following are some of the key questions Marshall answered during a media briefing on Thursday.
What happens if there is a positive / asymptomatic event in the bubble?
If someone tests positive, even if they are asymptomatic, they should be isolated for ten days.
What happens to the close and relaxed contacts?
A close contact is defined as a person who is not wearing a mask and is less than two meters from the individual for at least 15 minutes and 48 hours before the test / symptoms. The close contacts, Marshall said, were to be isolated for six days.
For casual contacts – those who are in physical contact but have their face covered – there will be a 24-hour period where they will be tested and released accordingly.
What happens if an opposition team refuses or is eager to take the field because of positive incidents in rival camps or because of other concerns related to Covid-19?
Such a scenario would be addressed by the Biosafety Scientific Advisory Group (BSAG). BSAG will be led by an independent chairman of Dr. Gurjit B. Also part of the expert panel are: Dr. Abhijit Salvi (event chief physician), Dr. Peter Harcourt (Chairman, ICC Medical Advisory Committee) and Dr. Dave Musker (ICC Covid compliance officer).
It would be BSAG’s responsibility to address all concerns of the participants and explain any level of risk. “We know from other sports that the Olympics in Tokyo are a good example, they had no case of outdoor competitors participating in sports and transferring Covid-19. So playing outdoors on a cricket ground against another team would be very low risk for other players, ”Marshall said.
BSAG will provide support and expert advice to the ICC in the planning and delivery of a secure event. During the event, they will meet daily to ensure that all Covid-19 issues are addressed properly with the help of expert scientific and medical advice. They will assess and recommend to the Covid Response Group about any significant changes in the regulatory environment or the status of the pandemic and their impact on the event.
What happens if a player has to leave the bubble to go to the hospital for scans / treatment?
Dedicated biosecure hospitals and detailed protocols are in place to protect the player as well as the integrity of the bubble.
What will be the sanction in case of a bubble burst?
There is no clear guideline yet, but Marshall said it would be something team management should take “very seriously”.
“We do not want to see violations,” he said. “We do not think there will be. We believe that people understand how important this is, but we also expect team leaders and their teams to be kept strict and abide by the rules. If people understand the rules and maintain discipline, the answer is on this issue means we will not have issues that disrupt the tournament or their own enjoyment of it. “
Are families allowed in the tournament bubble?
“A small number of families,” Marshall said, would be allowed to stay with the players. But they had to follow the same protocols to work in the bubble. “Being able to see close families can be a very important factor in reducing stress and creating a more comfortable environment for people,” Marshall said. “We have also seen this in other events, such as the IPL.”
Will there be counselors to deal with mental health issues?
The ICC will have a psychologist present throughout the tournament at all times.
Should the crowds be vaccinated twice?
Marshall pointed out that fans had to follow the local government’s rules on vaccination to attend public events like a cricket match. In Oman and Abu Dhabi, fans must be vaccinated twice to be in the stadium, but not in Dubai and Sharjah.
Should fans wear masks?
Can fans interact with players?
Marshall said the players would be “kept separate” and would not “interfere directly, physically” with the fans.
Nagraj Gollapudi is the news editor at ESPNcricinfo