NEW DELHI: Storm clouds were gathering Thursday over cricket’s World T20, with organisers still to release tickets or confirm the venues, less than a month before the tournament begins in India.
Hundreds of thousands of supporters are expected to attend the 16-team contest which begins on March 8, the first time India has hosted the world cup for the game’s newest and most popular format.
But with question marks over the presence of the West Indies and New Delhi yet to receive clearance to host matches, fans who need to secure flights, hotels and even visas are still unable to firm up travel plans.
The official line from the Indian board is that any glitches will be ironed out and there is no cause for alarm.
“Everything will be sorted out very soon,” Anurag Thakur, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said.
But Paul Ford, co-founder of New Zealand’s Beige Brigade fan club, said it was now simply too late for some fans.
“We would have loved to travel to India as New Zealand have a good team this time round,” Ford said.
“But the delay in ticket sales and the venue being undecided has really made it hard for the fans to plan their travel.”
Tickets for other major sporting events in 2016 such as the Rio Olympics in August and football’s European Championships which take place in France in June went on sale months ago.
Thakur told reporters last Friday that tickets would be released at the start of this week, a month before the first matches involving the tournament’s minnows.
But that deadline came and went and organisers have set next Monday as their new target, a month before India play New Zealand in the first heavyweight clash.
The delay can be explained in part by the uncertainty over whether New Delhi’s Firoz Shah Kotla stadium will receive all the permits needed to stage its four matches — including the first semi-final.
While the Delhi High Court indicated on Monday it was likely to give its green light, it also left open the possibility that it would not make a final decision for nearly another three weeks.
“Twenty days is the maximum time given, we will get things in order in 10 days,” Chetan Chauhan, vice-president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association, said.
“We have already told the BCCI to start the ticket sales. We have told them that we are absolutely fit to host the matches with all the approvals in place.”