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Lanka Premier League gets Sri Lankan president’s approval despite rising COVID cases

Sri Lanka’s ‘Lanka Premier League’ cricket tournament will take place this month said authorities on the island, after receiving the go-ahead from the military-led COVID task force and president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, amidst delays and controversy during the pandemic.

The tournament, which is due to start later this month, is reportedly set to be played in Hambantota – the Rajapaksa’s hometown where a stadium is named after prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa – after talks that the location may have to be shifted abroad.

Sri Lanka is currently experiencing a surge in coronavirus positive cases, with hundreds of positive patients reported yesterday. Cricketing authorities however have defended their decision to hold the tournament dispute cases being reported in every district on the island.

However, after a meeting with Gotabaya Rajapaksa and army commander Shavendra Silva – both of whom are accused of war crimes – authorities have reportedly relaxed the 14 day quarantine period to just 7 days for international players. Rajapaksa’s nephew Namal Rajapaksa, who is Sri Lanka’s Cabinet Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, paid tribute to both his father and uncle for their approval earlier today.

The tournament already ran into trouble earlier this year, when five foreign players, including Andre Russell, Faf du Plessis and David Miller withdrew from the series less than a week after they were drafted into franchise teams.

Bollywood actor Salman Khan, who has previously campaigned for Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2014, expanded his interests in Sri Lanka by purchasing the Kandy Tuskers cricket franchise.

Controversy also arose after it was announced that the Jaffna Stallions team, owned by Brindon Bagirathan, would be led by Thisara Perera. The cricketer was commissioned as a major in the military last month, with accused war criminal Shavendra Silva pinning rank insignia on him in a military ceremony.

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