Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) will allow fully vaccinated spectators, up to 50% of stadium capacity, to attend Lanka Premier League (LPL) matches when the tournament starts on Sunday, subject to a maximum of 14 days having lapsed since receiving the second dose of the vaccine.
Similar arrangements have already been in place for the Test series between Sri Lanka and West Indies in Galle.
“We have had discussions right along with the Ministry of Health to give us 50% spectators. There’s the new Omicron variant but that’s immaterial. We always follow the health guidelines and we are asking for spectators who are double vaccinated at least two weeks after, and they will follow all health protocols,” Prof. Arjuna de Silva, Chairman of SLC’s Medical Committee, said.
The entirety of the first round of this year’s LPL – consisting 20 league matches – will be played at the R. Premadasa Stadium before moving to the Hambantota International Stadium for the playoffs.
While SLC already have a blueprint to conduct the LPL in a bio-secure bubble, which contained any spread of the virus during last year’s tournament, playing the tournament in two venues in this edition will likely test those protocols.
The lead up to the tournament has not been as smooth as organisers would have liked, with four of the five franchises changing ownership, in effect completely revamping their squads and support staff – the Galle Gladiators the only exception -- with the Colombo franchise changing hands twice in the space of two weeks.
There was also controversy over the termination of the defending champion Jaffna Stallions franchise, with Innovative Production Group (IPG), the rights holders for the LPL, claiming the previous owners had not paid the franchise fee – a claim disputed by the Jaffna Stallions ownership group, who in turn alleged that IPG had shown a lack of transparency making it impossible for them to operate as franchise owners.
Similar controversy was sparked on Wednesday, when the previous owner of the Dambulla franchise Sachiin Joshi said he would take legal action against IPG and SLC after his ownership was also terminated, saying that he had not been paid his dues though footing the franchise fees and subsequent costs.
IPG in response have said that the termination was done as a result of money laundering charges being brought against Joshi, and on the advise of the International Cricket Council (ICC).