The door for Australia’s cricketers to exit COVID-19-ravaged India has been opened again with Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirming the India travel ban will likely come to an end on May 15.
Australians stranded in the subcontinent, including 30 players, staff and officials involved in the Indian Premier League, could also be offered seats on repatriation flights.
The cricketers have been caught in a COVID outbreak that has hit two IPL teams, including superstar Pat Cummins’ Kolkata Knight Riders.
Cummins and fellow Aussie Ben Cutting have had to isolate in their hotel, with a match on Monday night cancelled, after two teammates tested positive.
It’s understood the Aussies feel safe in their biosecurity bubbles despite the virus breaching its walls.
But should they want to get out before the tournament ends, the door that was shut will now be reopened at the end of next week.
On Tuesday Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Todd Greenberg said the players were “fine” and went to India with their “eyes wide open”.
“Both boys are fine, I spoke to Pat last night, they’re doing pretty well all things considered,” he told 2GB on Tuesday.
“There’s obviously a lot of anxiety about making sure they can get home safely and that’s obviously tricky given some of the government restrictions that have been put in place, too.”
Morrison said the ban was likely to end on May 15.
“This is a two-week pause, this is not a permanent pause, this is not a four-month lockdown – what we’re seeking to do is ensure Australia doesn’t get a third wave of COVID across the country,” Morrison said on Tuesday morning.
“This was escalating quickly and we needed to take action to ensure that we could get the system back into a place within that fortnight so we could get those repatriation flights running again.”
There are more than 30 Australian players, commentators, umpires and coaching staff participating in the T20 tournament – including Steve Smith, David Warner and Ricky Ponting.
If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It's a disgrace!! Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system. I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect
On Monday Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley said there were no plans to organise a charter flight home for them.
Last week, Morrison said Australian cricket talent in India would not be given any preferential treatment.
“They’ve travelled there privately under their own arrangements. This wasn’t part of an Australian tour,” Morrison said.
“And they’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with our own arrangements.”
Three players, AJ Tye, Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa, made it back to Australia from India before the border was shut
Umpire Paul Reiffel, who tried to leave, was too late, while commentator Michael Slater made it to the Maldives where he ripped into Morrison for shutting Australians who were in India out.
Slater tweeted on Monday evening: “If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!
“Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system.
“I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect.”
Morrison called that criticism “absurd”.
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