Islamabad United cancels practice session in Karachi

By: News Desk
Published: 01:01 PM, 13 Mar, 2020
Islamabad United cancels practice session in Karachi
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Islamabad United has cancelled their practice session at National Cricket Stadium of Karachi on Friday.

According to 24NewsHD, the players were due to take part in the practice session in the stadium at 1pm but it was called off owing to the concerns regarding the spread of coronavirus.

Islamabad United is due to play with Karachi Kings in the 28th match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020.

According to the TV channel, the players are also avoiding to attend public events relating to the promotion of their teams' franchises.

On Thursday, Pakistan cricket authorities announced plans to close public access to a series of upcoming domestic league matches in Karachi, making an abrupt U-turn as criticism mounted online of the country's handling of the coronavirus.

"Following developments in the past 24 hours, the (Pakistan Cricket Board) has decided to take a proactive approach and put in place precautionary measures to better safeguard the health and safety of all those who will be involved in the upcoming matches," said the governing body’s chief executive Wasim Khan. 

Officials have yet to announce if several games including the league final set to be hosted in Lahore later this month will also be closed to the public.

Karachi was set to host five Twenty20 league games over the next six days at the national stadium, which can hold up to 30,000 spectators. 

The decision comes as anxiety escalates globally about the potential for unchecked transmission of the virus at big sporting occasions. 

Events around the world have been cancelled or postponed over the virus, including the suspension of NBA games in North America.

Social media users in Pakistan had earlier voiced concerns after authorities appeared set on continuing to host the Karachi matches despite a rise in coronavirus cases. 

"Still trying to understand why PSL hasn't been cancelled during a GLOBAL PANDEMIC," tweeted Pakistani novelist Fatima Bhutto.

"World's best sports events are cancelled but in Pakistan flight operations are still going on, PSL is still not banned... Where we're headed?" added Twitter user Asim Siddiq. 

However, officials insisted the situation was under control Wednesday. 

In a statement released by the Pakistan Cricket Board, officials encouraged fans attending games to wash their hands and refrain from hugging, shaking hands and spitting. "We have ensured all kinds of safety measures at the PSL matches, so the people can enjoy cricket," said Murtaza Wahab, the Sindh government spokesman.

As fans entered Karachi's national stadium Thursday evening, health officials wearing medical masks took their temperatures and monitored handwashing stations. 

Pakistan has recorded 21 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus -- including 15 in Karachi -- but no deaths, according to Mumtaz Ali Khan from the National Institute of Health. However, there are fears that officials have yet to test large swathes of the population in earnest due to a lack of resources and decades of underinvestment in the country’s health sector.

This year’s PSL tournament is the first in the league’s five-year history to be played in its entirety on home soil. Previous seasons saw a portion of matches held in the United Arab Emirates over security fears.