Indian cricket chiefs are sticking with plans to salvage the cash-rich IPL tournament this year even if it means playing in empty stadiums, the country's board president Sourav Ganguly said Thursday.
The world's richest Twenty20 tournament is heading for the first wipeout of its 12-year history after being repeatedly postponed because of the coronavirus.
Despite the worsening epidemic caseload in India, Ganguly -- president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) -- said in an email to state associations that every effort was being made to hold the Indian Premier League in some form.
"The BCCI is working on all possible options to ensure that we are able to stage the IPL this year, even if it means playing the tournament in empty stadiums," Ganguly wrote in a letter seen by AFP.
"The fans, franchisees, players, broadcasters, sponsors and all other stakeholders are keenly looking forward to the possibility of IPL being hosted this year."
Players from India and abroad have "have also shown their keenness on being a part of this year's IPL", he added.
"We are optimistic and the BCCI will shortly decide on the future course of action on this."
According to local media reports, the BCCI's planning has been hit by the International Cricket Council on Wednesday deferring a decision on the fate of the T20 World Cup, originally scheduled for Australia in October.
If the T20 showpiece does go ahead, there would be little room for even a shortened IPL.
BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told AFP the board would suffer losses of more than half a billion dollars if the IPL season is scrapped.
The league is a huge revenue earner for BCCI and estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy.
Foreign stars including Australia's Steve Smith, Pat Cummins and England all-rounder Ben Stokes have been pushing for an IPL start at some stage.
Cummins was to be the most expensive overseas star this year with Kolkata Knight Riders agreeing a $2.17 million fee for him.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India still hopes to salvage something from the money-spinning IPL T20 competition despite the coronavirus