The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has decided to reschedule the third season of its annual Mumbai T20 League because of the pandemic. The decision comes at a time when debates have raged about the Indian Premier League (IPL) continuing amidst the second wave of COVID-19 in the country.

The MCA on Thursday issued a press release stating their tournament would be deferred till further notice. Originally, the event was expected to start in the first week of June, shortly after the IPL final on May 30.

Interestingly, the MCA had written to the parent body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), last year, asking for permission to host the regional league. And on Tuesday, the BCCI granted permission to the MCA, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) and Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) to continue with their respective leagues.

The MCA’s decision though, as stated by its league chairman Milind Narvekar, was based on humanitarian grounds.

“When so many people in the country have been affected due to the pandemic, and there’s a scarcity of oxygen and vaccines, it is not prudent to organise a cricket tournament in such times,” Narvekar, who is also the personal assistant to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, told The Indian Express.

“So on humanitarian grounds, we have decided to defer the tournament till the situation comes back to normal. We don’t want our cricketers to play in these conditions. Today life is more precious than anything else. We will definitely organise the T20 Mumbai League as soon as conditions improve.”

Despite the thousands of daily cases the city had recorded earlier in April, the Wankhede Stadium hosted the first leg of IPL matches behind closed doors. The BCCI had put into effect a strict bubble to protect all personnel involved in the matches, including the four teams that were based in the city for three weeks.

MCA governing council member Suraj Samat however, explained that there were a few more challenges at hand when it came to organising the Mumbai League.

“Apart from the situation, the only time we could start our league was in June, which is when the monsoon starts. We don’t know what it will be like ahead, and had to keep all stakeholders in mind. Hence we felt that it’s better not to take the risk,” he said.

The MCA’s decision to defer its league comes just two days after the BCCI had granted it permission to organise the event.

In a letter to the MCA, TNCA and SCA, BCCI chief executive officer Hemang Amin wrote: “Your request for organizing the tournament falls within the 15-day period after the IPL 2021 gets over on May 30, 2021. The issue was discussed at the Apex Council meeting of the BCCI. After some deliberations, it was decided that owing to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, the BCCI is giving permission to organize the tournament within the 15-day period after the completion of IPL 2021.”

The MCA has called off its league due to the pandemic, while the TNCA have announced that the Tamil Nadu Premier League will start in June.