CPL in T&T must align with existing COVID-19 protocols- PM Rowley

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Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, said he was “cautiously optimistic” the entire six-week Caribbean Premier League could be staged on the twin-island later this year, but cautioned that the tournament would have to align with the country’s existing COVID-19 protocols, especially since it would involve “serious logistical arrangements”.

Media reports have suggested CPL organisers were exploring the possibility of staging all 34 matches of the 2020 edition of the popular Twenty20 tournament between Queen’s Park Oval and the Brian Lara Stadium.

Rowley said there had been no discussions with CPL officials as yet, but once there was contact made, any planning to host the tournament would take place under guidance from the country’s Chief Medical Officer.

“We don’t have a proper handle yet but we are cautiously optimistic if the CPL authorities would like to host the tournament in Trinidad,” Rowley said.

“We have heard from unofficial sources that they’re conversations that a tournament, all components of it, they’re looking to have it in Trinidad.

“If that comes to us from official sources, we’ve cleared the pathway for that conversation and we would facilitate as we are able to, under the confines of the CMO’s guidance.

“So we would be happy to host it within the confines of what we do here but they’re some serious logistical arrangements because we will want to preserve our environment and that tournament will involve a number of persons coming into Trinidad and Tobago.”

He added: “A tournament in Trinidad and Tobago involving the teams of CPL with players coming from all over the world or all over the region, that creates a more complex arrangement because if they’re coming from areas where they’re problems and right now virtually everywhere in the world has problems.

“We have to be careful … but we want to look at it (staging CPL) positively and we will. But as of now, we don’t have formal requests to do that.”

The CPL is scheduled to be played from August 19 to September 26 across several Caribbean nations, including Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad – which has hosted the final for the last three seasons.

However, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic has put the tournament in danger, and organisers are desperately trying to find solutions to ensure it can go ahead as planned, despite the ongoing public health crisis.

Trinidad was among the first Caribbean countries to close its borders to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and has managed to limit recorded infections to 116 along with eight deaths.

Rowley warned, however, that with mandatory quarantine measures still in place for anyone entering the island, the tournament could face complications depending on when it was scheduled.

“Now, if you’re coming into this country you have to go into quarantine. If the intention is to have the tournament during the time when coming in means going into quarantine, well then obviously we can’t do it,” Rowley pointed out.

“But if the tournament is scheduled for a time when that mandatory quarantine is not on the table, then we can do it.”

Security Minister Stuart Young added there were solutions to the challenge posed by quarantine.

“It is not insurmountable. The CMO and myself have been working with some sectors … and once they satisfy us that outside of Trinidad and Tobago they’ve quarantined for the 14-day period and provide the test results … they’re ways. There’s flexibility and we’re always being guided by our public health experts.”

Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, said the proposed tour of England by West Indies in July would be used as a guide for authorities here.

“We’ll be paying attention to the playing conditions being developed now,” he said. “This tour by the West Indies to England will give us a template to look at to see how we can manage the on-field application of cricket to CPL.”

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