Looking to ensure as safe and smooth a tournament as possible, the ICC has left no stone unturned ahead of this month’s Men’s T20 World Cup in Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
With roughly 2000 individuals - including broadcasters, staff and players - set to be involved in the tournament and many of those entering managed environments, the ICC are determined to create a setting that is safe from both a physical and mental health perspective. By doing so, teams will be allowed to focus on their pursuit of the T20 World Cup trophy.
“This is absolutely a cricket event, a Cricket World Cup,” Alex Marshall, ICC Head of Integrity, said. “It’s not a COVID event where there is some cricket being played.
“We want the focus to be on the cricket and we will make sure therefore that it is played in a safe environment where people can engage in their sport, enjoy the event and for the focus to be on winning for all the teams, not worrying about health concerns.”
Here, we look at the steps that have been taken to create that safe environment and what the tournament will look like for those involved.
COLLABORATING WITH OTHER ORGANISATIONS
“We’ve spoken to the people who oversaw biosafety for the Tokyo Olympics, we’ve spoken to Formula 1, the Euros, of course the IPL which has been running locally in recent weeks here, and there has been a lot of bilateral cricket that plenty of learning has come from,” Marshall said. “We’ve taken some good advice.”
Alongside seeking the advice of the prior mentioned group, the ICC has set up a ‘Biosafety Scientific Advisory Group’ headed by an independent chair.
BSAG will oversee all issues relating to biosafety through the tournament and will meet daily, ensuring any COVID-19 related issues that arise are dealt with appropriately with expert scientific and medical advice.
The group consists of:
Dr Gurjit Bhogal, Independent Chair
Dr Abhijit Salvi, Event Chief Medical Officer
Dr David Musker, ICC COVID Compliance Officer
Dr Peter Harcourt, Chair ICC Medical Advisory Committee
WHAT THE TOURNAMENT LOOKS LIKE FOR PARTICIPANTS
On arrival to the tournament, participants will go into six days isolation during which they will have three COVID tests to ensure no one entering the next stage of the process is infected.
After those six days, participants are moved into a managed event environment for the duration of the tournament, undergoing periodic testing.
Everybody taking part in the event has been fully vaccinated.
In order to maintain the managed event environment, participants will be kept away from the public.
With the tournament taking place across four locations and two countries, the ICC has planned thoroughly to ensure travel does not compromise safety.
“Because this is complex, it’s between different countries, it involves flights, it involves travelling on buses and coaches – so there’s been detailed planning to make sure that the managed event environment is preserved throughout the transport period,” Marshall said.
TAKING CARE OF MENTAL HEALTH
With players, broadcasters and staff alike going into bubble environments, the ICC is making mental health and well-being a priority.
A psychologist will be available 24 hours a day for anyone who seeks it, while other measures are being taken to make the bubble as enjoyable an environment as possible.
“We’re conscious that this (bubble) does raise mental health and well-being issues for everybody taking part,” Marshall said.
“We’ve learned those lessons from Tokyo, from cricket elsewhere in the world, from Euros, and we’ll be making sure that we really look after the people who are here and we acknowledge that some of them have seen rather too many bubbles and will be feeling the strain.
“There’s a number of things we’re doing which includes making materials available to people, giving them access to psychological support if they need it.
“From a day-to-day basis, making sure we keep the environment friendly and pleasant for them and it’s quite clear that we care about them and will make sure we look after them throughout the event.”
Alongside this will be the allowance of close family to join the bubble – under the same regulations as everyone else – and recreational opportunities outside of cricket.
“We also know that being able to see close families can be a very important factor in reducing stress and making a more enjoyable environment for people. So we have allowed a small number of close family to accompany teams if they wish to.
“It is very important that people get the chance to do other recreation, other sports, and see a bit of the country that they’re in.
“For example, it will be possible for them to play golf on a golf course where we have set aside the area for them and we can keep them separate from other people. So we maintain the managed environment, but we do allow people to do things other than sit in their hotel room.”
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS A CASE
If a positive case does arise, and the ICC expects that could happen given the evidence of major events around the world in other sports, a process is in place to address it.
Generally speaking, a positive test recipient will go into 10 days isolation and close contacts six days isolation, but all cases will be referred to BSAG for their consideration.
“Talking to all the other global events we should expect that we will get some positive tests,” Marshall said.
“Where someone is confirmed as a positive test it will be referred to the Biosafety Scientific Advisory Group for direction from them.
“But in simple terms someone who is confirmed as positive will isolate for 10 days and someone who is defined as a close contact, which is very close physical contact for more than 15 minutes without wearing a mask, then that person will isolate for six days.”
The ICC has sent out a detailed plan to every nation participating in the T20 World Cup, with a good understanding of the expectations of participant now established.
It has placed the onus on the team management of each squad to ensure that expectations are met.
“We’re working towards there not being breaches.
“If people understand the rules and they know that maintaining discipline is the answer to this problem and means we won’t have issues that disrupt the tournament or their own enjoyment of it - so I don’t anticipate it – if there is a breach that is a matter for the management of that squad and we would expect them to treat it very seriously.”