ICC T20 World Cup Is Possibly Going to be Ruled Out With Australia Likely to Extend Border Closure

While Australia Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham hinted at an extended border closure, international students will be flown back in chartered flights

The hopes of ICC T20 Cricket World in 2020 is all but over. The Australia Tourism Ministry indicated on June 17 that the country's borders would most likely remain closed until next year due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. It means that players from the other countries including the badly-hit ones — India, U.K. Pakistan, and South Africa — would not get a visa to play the competition.

The T20 World Cup, which was slated to be played from October 18 to November 15 this year, is now agonizingly close to being either postponed or canceled altogether. Apart from the hosts Australia, 15 other nations were supposed to take part in the competition. While International Cricket Council (ICC) is yet to take a call on this year's T20 World Cup, it has already deferred a decision on the 2021 T20 World Cup, which India was scheduled to host.

Addressing the media at the National Press Club in Canberra, Australia's Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said that "tourist-related travel in or out of Australia remains quite some distance off".

"Just because of the practicalities of the volumes that are involved and the need for us to first and foremost keep putting health first," he said, adding that closing the borders has helped Australia contain the Coronavirus pandemic in the country, which reported 7,367 positive cases as of June 17.

Cricket Australia Says It's Unrealistic

ICC T20 World Cup
ICC will take a call on T20 World Cup 2020 next month Wikimedia Commons

As ICC remained mum on the subject, Cricket Australia (CA) chairman Earl Eddings termed the prospect of the competition in 2020 "unrealistic" due to the pandemic. "While it hasn't been formally called off this year, or postponed, trying to get sixteen countries into Australia in the current world, where most countries are still going through COVID-19 spiking, I think it is unrealistic. It's going to be very, very difficult," he said in a virtual press meet released by Cricket Australia on June 16.

The ICC is likely to announce its decision next month after assessing the situation. In a release on June 10, ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney said that the international cricket governing body is assessing the situation and will take a call at the right moment. "The situation surrounding the global pandemic is evolving rapidly and we want to give ourselves the best possible opportunity to make the right decision for the whole sport. The health and well-being of everyone involved is our priority and other considerations fall out from that," he added.

With CA and Australian government all but ruling out T20 World Cup, the Indian Premier League (IPL), a yearly T20 cricket competition, may get a shot in the arm. As India has eased restrictions and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is adamant in conducting the tournament, the cash-rich competition may go ahead in place of the World Cup this year. However, it is unclear at present whether Australian cricketers would be allowed to travel to India or back.

If not, the next cricket tournament in the land down under would be India's Test tour in the December-January window. The visiting tourists will need to undergo mandatory quarantine as per official guidelines.

Sydeny's Bondi beach
Tourism in Australia will suffer due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic Wikimedia Commons

Trans-Tasmania Bubble

However, Australia is working on a few exceptions to let foreign tourists enter the country. The first country which could get the nod is New Zealand, which has so far contained the virus with just two active cases at present. Both the countries are in talks and an expert panel has already submitted a report.

Apart from New Zealand, Australia is also exploring possibilities of easing travel restrictions to countries that have managed to contain the pandemic successfully. "We can work with those countries and find safe pathways to deal with essential business travel that helps to contribute to jobs across our economies," Birmingham added.

Some international students, although, will get a reprieve as special flights will be arranged to fly them back to Australia on a "pilot basis" from next month. Australian National University and the University of Canberra were the first two universities to take up the proposal from the cabinet. Around 350 students will fly to Australia in chartered flights.