Mumbai: The ongoing Unacademy Road Safety World Series has been called off due to the threat of coronavirus, the organisers announced on Thursday night (March 12).

“In the interest of public safety and security the organizing body of the Unacademy Road Safety World Series and following the advisory issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, have unanimously agreed to reschedule the remaining matches of the Series to a later date. The remaining seven matches in the series will now be played when the situation is conducive to hold public events with large gathering and there are no travel restrictions,” a media statement from the organisers said.

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Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the escalating number of cases worldwide, the Government of India issued an advisory “to ensure that no public gatherings take place in any sporting event”.

The first four matches in the Road Safety World Series saw a tremendous turnout at all venues and huge following and engagement on air and the digital channels. The popularity of this five-nation T20 series, which is held to create awareness towards road safety in the country, grew with every passing day and tickets for the upcoming matches were sold-out much in advance. To prevent any further scope of a large gathering, the organisers felt that it is apt not to go ahead with the planned matches now.

Indian Legends skipper Sachin Tendulkar said that it was the right step under the circumstance to reschedule the tournament. “The rescheduling of this series, held to create awareness about Road Safety, is unfortunate yet the right step. We all hope and pray that the spread of Novel Corona Virus is contained. It is nice to support the cause and spread the message of Road Safety and playing again with some old friends on the cricket field. I look forward to continuing to support this critical cause through the medium of sports.”

Brian Lara echoed Tendulkar’s sentiment and added: “People are hungry for cricket, they are hungry to see legends, like (Virender) Sehwag and Sachin (Tendulkar), when they come out to play cricket. So I think this tournament was awesome. The competition was even more than I expected. It was very special, seeing Sachin back on the field again and seeing the crowd reaction. I think it's a great tournament which is for a cause.

“Road safety is such a huge thing in India, and not just in India but around the world. To be leading the charge on an improvement in that area, is great. People not only came to see the cricket icons from the past, but they also came in support of the venture, which is great. The situation is a little disappointing now but we are looking forward to come back and take part in the remaining games of the series.”