“It is the physical experience that I enjoy much,” said Hari, a CSK fan. “I remember every match so vividly. We batch of nine friends used to go together. Now, due to safety concerns, things have changed. We hope they allow fans to attend with all precautions, but we also understand if they wish to avoid any chances of taking risk,” he said.
According to Prabhu Damodharan, leader of the Whistle Podu Army, there is a significant number of fans abroad, as well as in the UAE. Many clubs are thinking of collaborating with international fans who are also interested in watching the matches in person. Due to UAE’s geographical and logistical ease for many Western fans, Damodharan said foreign fans are looking forward to more news on fan attendance.
Should fans be requested to stay at home and watch a televised match, both said that due to COVID-19, only small viewing parties can be organised. Local fan clubs do not want to add to the threat of an outbreak, and thus will either host online watch parties or gather in small groups of close friends.
“As a fan, I am most excited to watch thala Dhoni walk onto the pitch again,” said Damodharan. “IPL is a chance to meet with all my fellow fans, who feel like family. But, we do not want to risk any outbreak. The rules also must be strict, for example, what fans should do if the ball comes into the stands. But if we are told not to come, that will be fine. We will all abide to ‘Watch from Home’ this year,” he said.