Aussie cricketers return home from IPL despite India flight ban

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson, pictured here posing for a team photo.
Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson pose for a team photo in March. (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson have returned to Australia from the Indian Premier League despite the country's ban on flights from India.

The Aussie cricketers touched down in Melbourne late on Thursday afternoon via a commercial flight from Qatar, sparking concerns they'd exposed a loophole in Prime Minister Scott Morrison's travel ban.

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The duo's stint in the IPL ended prematurely on Monday when they decided to follow AJ Tye's lead in leaving India because of the nation's deadly second wave of COVID-19.

There were fears that Zampa and Richardson would be stranded in a Mumbai hotel and unable to return home after the federal government suspended all direct flights from India until May 15.

But they successfully travelled to Doha then, having booked tickets prior to Tuesday's announcement from Mr Morrison, departed after the stopover.

That sparked concerns that Zampa and Richardson had highlighted a loophole in the federal government's ban on flights from India.

But Qatar Airways moved to ease concerns on Friday afternoon, confirming they'd stopped flights to Australia from India via Doha.

“We can confirm that Qatar Airways does not currently sell tickets from India to Australia via Qatar and we are not carrying passengers on this route," a spokesperson told Yahoo Sport Australia.

"We remain in close contact with the relevant Australian authorities to maintain the compliance required with the current restrictions on passenger arrivals from India."

Scott Morrison, pictured here talking to the media in Canberra.
Scott Morrison suggested travelling from Australia to India via a third country would also not be possible. Image: Getty

During his press conference announcing the ban on Tuesday, the Prime Minister suggested travelling from India to Australia via a third country would not be possible.

"We are advised that indirect flights through Doha, Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, we are aware flights to and from these transit points and India have been paused by the respective governments," he said.

"So that third country entry point into Australia has already been closed by those key embarkation points to Australia.

"That will obviously have impacts, in a positive way, in terms of restricting the inflow and in fact in most cases eliminating it."

According to reports, Cricket Australia didn't received any special treatment to get Zampa and Richardson home, and the pair travelled to Australia under the current rules.

Qatar Airways flight staff, pictured here at Sydney international airport in April, 2020.
Qatar Airways flight staff at Sydney international airport in April, 2020. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Aussie umpire blocked from leaving India

Australian umpire Paul Reiffel wasn't as lucky, having decided to flee India this week but soon realising he had left it too late.

Reiffel remains in the IPL's biosecurity bubble and, like other Australians involved in the Twenty20 tournament, is set to wait until the event ends before flying home.

Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association are in ongoing talks about the prospect of organising an end-of-tournament charter flight, but remain hopeful it won't be necessary.

Mr Morrison, whose government would need to approve any charter flight for Australia's IPL contingent that numbers almost 40, has said the India travel ban will be reviewed closer to May 15.

On Tuesday, India surpassed 200,000 COVID deaths amid a dreadful surge that has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.

with AAP

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