New Delhi [India], April 1 (ANI): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ehsan Mani can heave a sigh of relief as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has informed the ICC about positive talks around visa guarantees for teams coming to play the T20 World Cup in India at the end of the year.
The international body in a statement after the ICC Board and Committee meetings said: "The Board received an update on the ongoing preparations around the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 in India. This included an update from the BCCI on positive discussions with the Indian government around tax arrangements and visa guarantees. It is anticipated that both issues will be resolved over the next month."
The issue of visas was laid to rest last year itself when the Indian government had written to the Presidents of the IOA (Indian Olympic Association) and the IOC (International Olympic Committee). Then Sports Secretary Radhe Shyam Julaniya, in his letter on June 18, 2019, clearly stated that the country of origin of athletes would not be a barrier for them to get visas to come and compete in international sporting events in India. This after a couple of Pakistan shooters were denied visa to compete in the ISSF World Shooting championship in the national capital.
But the PCB has time and again insisted on a formal assurance on the matter with Mani also asking the ICC for a written assurance. "India is set to host T20 World Cup in October-November this year. I have told the board that we want written confirmation from India that our fans, journalists, and players will get visas. I have a meeting with ICC and I will raise this point once again," he had said.
The tax issue has also been an area of concern and it had come to the fore after the 89th Annual General Meeting on December 24 that the BCCI would look to discuss the issue with the government at the earliest. A board member who attended the meeting had said that the secretary and treasurer would speak to the government and look at a solution.
"We are set to host the 2021 T20 World Cup as well as the 50-over World Cup in 2023. We need to speak to the government to see if we can get tax exemption and for this we have decided that our secretary Jay Shah and treasurer Arun Dhumal will speak to the government. If the government doesn't agree, we will then decide on how to go about it. We also have the 2016 World T20 matter pending, so that will also have to be worked out," the member had told ANI.
Coming back to the current ICC meetings, keeping in mind the current COVID-19 scenario, the ICC has also decided to allow 23-member squads to be picked for ICC events. "The ICC Board agreed to allow Members to take up to seven additional players and / or support staff to accompany the squad of 23 to ICC senior events where a period of quarantine is required and / or teams are accommodated in a bio-secure bubble," the ICC said.
In other decisions, the Board agreed to postpone the inaugural ICC Women's U19 Cricket World Cup 2021 which was due to be held in Bangladesh at the end of the year. The inaugural event will now take place in January 2023. Similarly, to allow teams the best possible preparation, the global qualifier for the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2022, will also be postponed and will now be held in December 2021.
The ICC Board agreed to set up a Member Support Fund for Cricket with USD 5 million being made available in grants to support the playing of international cricket. The fund will be made available in form of a "co-payment" contribution with a maximum grant of 50% being available for Members upon application. (ANI)