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India-Australia series: BCCI dials Queensland Health on quarantine

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virat kohli steve smith
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File photo of Indian skipper Virat Kohli with Australian batsman Steve Smith.

The Indian cricket team, which is set to tour Australia for a full-fledged series next month, may get a concession for the 14-day mandatory quarantine protocol in place in Queensland where the Indians will land, the Queensland Health department has hinted.

A Queensland Health spokesperson confirmed to IANS that an application from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) regarding quarantine is under consideration. It is assumed that the application seeks concessions, possibly a less than 14-day quarantine period, which would enable them to play a warm-up match and train before the One-day International series begins tentatively on November 25.

“Queensland Health is currently assessing an application received from the Indian cricket team. We will work directly with the team as the assessment progresses,” the spokesperson said in reply to a query from IANS on Friday.

The query was about players’ quarantine period and a possible practice game before the ODI series. The spokesperson, however, didn’t give details.

Cricket Australia, the governing body of the game, has not announced the itinerary as yet.

The Indian Premier League (IPL), in which the India players are busy right now in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will end on November 10. As per India’s tentative schedule of Australia, the tourists are to play three ODIs, three T20 Internationals, and four Tests, between November 25 and January 19.

Some of the India players who are playing in the IPL and will get free after the league phase, ending on November 3, are expected to reach Australia by November 10 while the players who make it to the IPL play-offs and the final are likely to reach on November 12 or 13.

As a rule, people arriving in Queensland from outside have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period. In normal course, this rule would mean that India won’t get to play a warm-up game or train ahead of the ODI series.

It has been learnt that Queensland Health department may view elite sports a bit differently from normal members of the public. If that is so, it could mean that the warm-up game might be accommodated, but with a standard operating procedure, as is the norm in world of sports these days.

The Women’s National Basketball League this year, comprising 56 regular season games and four finals games, has been allowed to take place in north Queensland between November 12 and December 20. Basketball players and officials, only from areas identified as Covid-19 hotspots, will arrive in Brisbane for a 14-day quarantine period before heading north. The rest can have it a bit easy.

Unlike elite sportspersons, the Queensland government has put in place strict border restrictions for normal members of public coming from hotspot areas. They aren’t allowed in, let alone go under quarantine like the basketball players.

The Queensland government website states: “The restrictions mean people who have been in a Covid-19 hotspot within the last 14 days will be turned away at our border. This applies to everyone who has been in a Covid-19 hotspot in the past 14 days, except people needed in Queensland for essential activities.”

With almost all of India’s limited-overs cricketers playing in the IPL in the UAE, which is not considered a Covid-19 hotspot, there is a likelihood that they may not have to undergo the quarantine period before going to play.

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