- Arranges for meeting between SLC and Health Ministry officials
By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa
Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa has stepped in to resolve the problems confronting Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) from holding the Lanka Premier League (LPL) by arranging for a meeting between SLC and Health Ministry officials on Wednesday 4 November.
“The Sports Minister has met the Health Ministry officials today (Monday) and basically given the appointment at 3 p.m. on Wednesday to meet us and discuss,” revealed LPL Tournament Director Ravin Wickramaratne.
“We have already sent all the necessary documents to the Minister and he must have studied it and met with the Health Ministry officials,” he said.
SLC is waiting for clearance from the Ministry of Health to go ahead with its tournament.
Wednesday 4 November was the quarantine deadline set for the arrival of overseas players and staff participating in the LPL which is scheduled to commence on 21 November.
“The Health Ministry should be flexible in its rulings. There are so many methods to find out whether you are positive or negative without confining someone to a room for 14 days and another 14 days in a health quarantine,” said Wickramaratne.
“I can’t understand with the technology that is available they can have 14 PCR tests every day. But no one is taking the responsibility, they want to safeguard their jobs and wait comfortably.”
The Sports Minister has already shown his support for the tournament by tweeting that the Government would extend all possible support to make LPL an annual sport property of Sri Lanka much on the lines of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in India.
The Minister stated: “Following the success of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the possibility of holding such a tournament in Sri Lanka was much talked about for many years, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. But now, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports have been in discussion for weeks to make this tournament a reality as it is essential for the future of Sri Lankan cricket. The tournament will bring more international attention and recognition to our young athletes and such a highly-competitive tournament will not only enhance entertainment but also make a significant contribution to the sports economy as well as the economy of the country.
“This tournament will be a strong foundation to strengthen the sports tourism industry which has been severely affected by the global coronavirus epidemic. As the Minister of Sports, I look forward to giving my full support to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) through my Ministry to make Lanka Premier League T20 tournament the premier annual tournament in the country.”
Wickramaratne pointed out: “We have asked permission for over 170 people to come to Sri Lanka and if they come today they will spend at least for one month on single bed and breakfast, $ 75 to a hotel each day. They are contributing towards Sri Lanka’s economy. But these health officials are not concerned about the economy or the country.”
The LPL is due to be contested among five teams from 21 November to 14 December with the participation of 30 overseas cricketers and all the top Sri Lankan cricketers.