What is bio-bubble in IPL?

The bio-bubble concept in IPL emerged as a crucial safety measure during the pandemic, ensuring that players, staff, and officials remained isolated to minimize the risk of Covid-19 transmission. IPL 2020 in the UAE marked its implementation.

Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan Dutta

Last Updated: 2024-05-10

Louis Hobbs

7 minutes read


After the Indian government and the BCCI had decided to suspend the Indian Premier League in April 2020 before the tournament even started, it resumed later in September provided all players, staff, match officials and even the management stayed in the bio-bubble in IPL.

IPL 2020 was then conducted in the UAE between September 19 and November 8 with the focus slowly but steadily shifting to how safe playing conditions were for the participating players.

The IPL Governing Council, for one, had decided on the conditions surrounding the setting up of a “bio-secure environment” for IPL, taking many leaves out of the then recently-concluded England-West Indies Test series. This coming-together of conditions formed what had come to be known as a bio-bubble, which hoped to secure players from contracting the novel Coronavirus.

What is bio-bubble in cricket?

To stop the coronavirus from spreading, a bio-secure area or bio-bubble is being proposed (Covid-19). The International Cricket Council (ICC) and its member boards are working to reduce the possibility of the virus spreading from one individual to another during a bilateral series or ongoing tournament by implementing bio-secure venues for cricket matches.

Bio-bubble in IPL 2020: Stringent measures

A bio-bubble was aimed to keep cricket teams relatively isolated from the outside world to greatly minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection. The first instance of that was the England vs West Indies series, where players were only permitted access to the ground and their respective hotels.

It just so happened that both the Ageas Bowl in Southampton and the Old Trafford Cricket Stadium in Manchester had Hilton hotels as part of the stadium premises. However, that was not the case in the UAE for IPL, as things stood at that time.

This rule was tested a fortnight ago when England fast-bowler Jofra Archer breached bio-secure protocols by visiting a friend, leading him to sit out the second test against the West Indies. Archer faced a fine and had to self-isolate for five days before returning to play in the third test.

No physical contact without world 

A fundamental rule within the bio-bubble was that players couldn't access their families, visitors, friends, or relatives during a tournament, and were restricted from visiting them outside the team’s bio-secure environment.

All underwent mandatory self-quarantine upon landing

Upon landing in the UAE, all players were provided with extended practice sessions before commencing their participation in the IPL. This meant that players arrived in the country well in advance. The additional time became crucial due to a mandate requiring self-quarantine within the players’ respective hotel rooms upon arrival in the UAE. 

Stadiums remained empty with designated player pathways

The distinctive feature of cricket’s bio-bubbles was the unusual sight of empty stadiums at cricket tournaments, which was aimed at preventing the risk of infection for both players and spectators. 

Image Credits: The Hindu

Image Credits: The Hindu

This meant that even a stunning six or magical spells of tearaway fast-bowling were only met with silence. At that time, there were no plans for organizers to artificially simulate spectator sounds or the familiar buzz of a packed cricket stadium to restore a sense of normalcy to the environment.

Consequently, if Virat Kohli had smashed a quick-fire 80 off 30-odd deliveries, he would have raised his bat to an empty and quiet stadium. Following the example set by the England-West Indies series organizers, cricket grounds had one-way markings and set pathways to ensure that player movement was smooth and there was no crowding or gathering in any particular spot.

Remote commentary and contactless umpires

IPL 2020 also saw commentators covering the match from India. The goal was to minimize travel and limit the number of people within the bio-secure environment for social distancing purposes. In the England-West Indies bio-bubble, players were not allowed to hand over sweaters, caps, and personal accessories to the umpire before bowling, to avoid contact. It was also considered by IPL organizers.

Bio-bubble in IPL 2022

Numerous bio-bubble breaches were reported during the IPL 2021 that saw many players testing positive. This included Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier from Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings bowling coach Laxmipathy Balaji, Sunrisers Hyderabad’s wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha, Delhi Capitals spinner Amit Mishra and many more.

This led BCCI to come up with very strict rules for the IPL 2022, which was held totally in India across only four venues - Wankhede Stadium, Brabourne Stadium, DY Patil Stadium and MCA International Stadium.

Below we list the sanctions and breaches that BCCI laid out for the bio-bubble breaches:

  • Violating protocols would result in sanctions ranging from a one-match suspension to a seven-day re-quarantine period. Breaches by family members, players, or match officials within the bubble would incur more severe sanctions. An imposed fine of up to Rs 1 crore would be levied on teams that deliberately allow outsiders into the team bubble. Repeated infractions could lead to the deduction of one or two points from the team's overall tally.
  • Table A outlines the penalties for breaches within the bubble by a player, team official, or match official during IPL 2022:
    • First offence: 7-day re-quarantine or as specified in the Health & Safety Protocols (without pay for the missed matches).
    • Second offence: One-match suspension (without pay), effective after the 7-day re-quarantine period or as specified in the Health & Safety Protocols (without pay). 
    • Third offence: Removal from the registered Squad for the remainder of the season with no replacement allowed.
  • Unauthorized departure from the Bio-Secure Bubble by a Player or their family member, leading to the Player needing to re-quarantine for 7 days or as specified in the Health & Safety Protocols during IPL 2022, incurs the following sanctions: A fine imposed on the Franchisee by the BCCI, equivalent to the pro-rata League Fee that would have been paid to the Player had they been available for the match(es) during the re-quarantine period.
  •  For other breaches of the Health and Safety Protocols during IPL 2022, such as the non-provision of essential facilities in hotels, training facilities, or ground transportation, the following sanctions apply: The BCCI will collaborate with the franchisee to ensure compliance. In cases of persistent breaches, the BCCI will file a complaint to be reviewed under section 6 of these Operational Rules.


How did bio-bubble work in the England vs West Indies series?

The first-ever cricket series to take place post-Covid was the West Indies' tour to England and it was successful, with no positive tests. Regular testing every six days was enforced for players, support staff, and media. Bio-secure rules included isolation for anyone leaving and two negative tests before rejoining. Teams quarantined early for practice matches, ensuring readiness.

Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan DuttaSports Writer

An M.A. in English Literature, Subhayan is an experienced journalist and sports writer. Having worked as a journalist at Hindustan Times, Subhayan covered diverse beats including sports, education, and health, showcasing his versatility and in-depth understanding of various subjects.