Australian cricketers will not be prioritised for flights back from India, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying they chose to travel to the nation “privately” and were not on a national team tour.
Australia has slammed shut the border to India in the face of the world’s worst COVID outbreak, as the federal government scrambles to send aid and supplies to the terrifying crisis.
“We need to take appropriate steps here in Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, announcing the pause to Indian flights on Tuesday afternoon.
“They are dear friends of Australia and we will stand with them through this crisis.”
Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and Andrew Tye earlier cut short their IPL stints, wanting to return to Australia while it was still viable to do so via a commercial flight.
The cricketers may need to rely on charter flights and government clearances to fly home, depending on the extent of potential future restrictions.
Earlier, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said it was “galling” that Australians, including Indian Premier League superstars, went to India given the nation’s COVID-19 cases.
“We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, India is the epicentre of death and destruction as we speak. And I don’t think there is any need to go to India,” Mr McGowan said.
“There is huge pressure now on all our quarantine facilities as a result of people coming from India.
“What makes it more galling is people have gone over there, over the course of the past few months.
“For weddings or funerals or to play sport or whatever other purpose, and I don’t think that was necessary.”
Mr McGowan, asked about the prospect of Cricket Australia chartering a flight for its IPL contingent to fly home, noted it was a “matter for the Commonwealth government”.
“You have purpose-built quarantine facilities in remote locations with an airstrip,” he said, offering Christmas Island as an example.
“I just urge the Commonwealth government to take action and make sure they use the facilities that were made available.”
CA, among many institutions awaiting the government’s guidance, is in regular dialogue with its IPL players.
There are countless complicating factors for the governing body to navigate, even before the clout of India’s cricket board is taken into account.
Opinion is believed to be mixed among Australian players, coaches, umpires and broadcast staff involved in the lucrative Twenty20 tournament.
Some are content to stay on and finish the tournament, which is slated to run until the end of May, because they feel the IPL’s biosecurity bubble is working as a shield from India’s escalating health crisis.
Others were already intending to travel elsewhere after the T20 event.