T&T government “very much open” to hosting CPL

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The CPL has received a shot in the arm after the Trinidad & Tobago government indicated that it is “very, very much open” to hosting the 2020 edition of the tournament in the country.

However, Shamfa Cudjoe, the Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, stressed that a final decision would be subject to permission form the health ministry and the CPL providing a “commitment” to stick to the guidelines.

Earlier this week, the CPL submitted a proposal to hold the entire tournament comprising 34 matches at two main grounds in Trinidad.

Originally the CPL, which comprises six teams, was scheduled to take place between August 19 and September 26 at six venues. In its proposal, the CPL mentioned that it would conduct the tournament across 25 days with several double headers.

In 2018, the CPL had signed a three-year contract with the T&T government to host the semi-finals and the finals in addition to home matches of the local team, the Trinbago Knight Riders.

Last year, Trinidad hosted eight matches comprising five of the TKR home matches along with the knockouts in addition to two T10 women’s exhibition matches. As per the contract T&T government is meant to pay US$1 milion to CPL to facilitate the matches in the country.

On June 4, CPL had its first meeting with the T&T government, which was attended by Cudjoe along with the country’s chief medical officer and officials from the Ministry of Health. According to Cudjoe, the CPL proposal, which she called a “draft document”, primarily focused on health protocols and travel arrangements for the six franchises to follow.

“They wish to hold CPL in Trinidad and Tobago only,” Cudjoe told i95.5fm, a Trinidad-based radio station, hosted by local broadcaster Andre Errol Baptiste, hours after the meeting.

“The proposal speaks primarily to the health protocol, and doesn’t cover budget or anything of that sort. I must commend CPL for taking this time out to touch on and examine each and every part of the health protocol – from quarantine period after the players land, as to how they are going to be housed, how they are fed and how to maintain social distancing, even rules as to whether saliva or sweat can be used on the ball – they went into detail.”

Despite both parties walking out optimistic from Thursday’s meeting, Cudjoe said without the health ministry’s green light nothing would move forward.

“Most importantly, we are asking the Ministry of Health to give us clearance, and guidelines, to see if this is even possible, and what’s the best way to execute these games. But we are open to hosting, and as long as our numbers (Covid-19 cases) remain low, and we can establish the right health protocols and guidelines, and get the commitment from CPL to abide and adhere to those guidelines, then we are very much, very, very much open to hosting the CPL at this point in time.”

Cudjoe did not reveal tournament dates, but said CPL was “recommending mid-August, very early in September, playing games almost every day”.

Cudjoe reiterated that the government would not gamble with the safety of the people at a time when the pandemic has caused close to 400,000 deaths worldwide. T&T has remained vastly unaffected so far with 117 people having tested positive for Covid-19 with 8 deaths.

“All of that (the tournament dates) would have to be looked at based on the health guidelines and the protocols from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of National Security,” Cudjoe said. “You don’t want to chance anything. Our priority is safeguarding the athletes, the workers and all the stakeholders, most importantly the wider public of Trinidad and Tobago.

“So we will not be taking any chances, we have to examine these protocols very, very meticulously, and then we will come up with a way forward as to whether this makes sense, whether we can remain healthy, whether this is safe, before we give the go-ahead. We will be deliberating on the matter during the next week, and we hope to come up with a proper and solid response to CPL soon.”

Cudjoe said, as part of the next step, the CPL has been asked to present the “budgetary items”, which would be initially examined by the Sports Company of Trinidad & Tobago, the government arm administering various sport in the country.

A “concrete position”, Cudjoe said, is likely to be taken next week once CPL returns with further details in the proposal. That then would be heard by the T&T government cabinet before taking a decision. (ESPNCricinfo)

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