The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Saturday met the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises owners at the board headquarters and said that any future action on the upcoming edition of the league will be taken keeping in mind the best interest of public health amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

On Friday, the BCCI decided to postpone IPL 13, originally scheduled to start on March 29, to April 15 due to coronavirus which has affected more than 80 people in India and has claimed two lives as well so far.

In the meeting, the BCCI said that the board along with the IPL franchises “reiterated BCCI’s stand of putting safety and well-being of fans, athletes and employees as a priority”.

“The board will continue to monitor and work closely with the government of India, state governments and other state regulatory bodies to decide on the future course of action in the best interest of public health,” a BCCI release added.

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) co-owner and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who attended the meeting, said it has been decided that the safety of the spectators will be kept first and all the directives issued by the government and the health agencies will be followed when the 13th season of the cash-rich league starts in the near future.

“Wonderful to meet all the franchise owners ‘off the field’ so to say. The meeting by BCCI and IPL was to reiterate what all of us feel…safety first of the spectators, players management and cities we play in. All directives of the health agencies and government to be followed…,” Shah Rukh said on his official Twitter handle.

“Hope the spread of the virus subsides and the show can go on. BCCI and team owners in consultation with the government will keep a close watch and decide the way forward in the health interest of everyone. Lovely to meet everyone and then sanitise ourselves repeatedly,” he added while tagging BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, Secretary Jay Shah and IPL chairman Brijesh Patel.

Delhi Capitals co-owner Parth Jindal also tweeted: “Wonderful to meet all the IPL team owners today. Thank you to Sourav Ganguly, Jay Shah and Brijesh Patel for organizing this meeting.”

“As much as we all want IPL to happen the health and safety of the public, players, staff and all others is of paramount importance, we will continue to monitor the situation and defer to the central government rules and regulations in order to decide next steps. All possible scenarios were discussed however another meeting would be required after a few days to finalize based on the COVID-19 situation,” he added.

Speaking to IANS, sources in the know of developments earlier said that it was a clear case of all parties — BCCI, IPL owners and broadcaster Star — joining hands in a situation like this.

The source explained that the IPL could now either see more doubleheaders — a move initially opposed by Star — or an extension of the league which is being strongly opposed by the eight franchises, or a third plan could be to divide the teams into two groups.

On Wednesday, the government had cancelled all visas, except for a few official categories, till April 15 in the wake of the growing coronavirus scare.

The Sports Ministry also followed this up by making it clear that all sporting events should be cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. And if it is unavoidable, the events should be held behind closed doors to avoid mass gatherings.

(With IANS inputs)