March 12, 2020 / 5:24 PM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 1-Cricket-Rain washes out first India v South Africa ODI

(Adds remaining matches to be played without crowd)

DHARAMSALA, India, March 12 (Reuters) - The first one-day international between India and South Africa in the northern Indian city of Dharamsala was called off without a ball being bowled due to incessant rain on Thursday.

While several international sporting events have been cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the two cricket boards decided to go ahead with three one-day internationals despite concerns.

The Indian government said on Thursday it wanted the national cricket team’s upcoming matches to be played in empty stadiums - an unheard-of occurrence in a country where the sport is a national obsession.

A sizeable crowd still gathered in the Dharamsala ground, with local match organisers saying they had not received the government directive. The fans were, however, left disappointed as the rains did not relent.

The Indian cricket board (BCCI), however, confirmed that the remaining matches will be played without any spectators.

“After holding discussions with the MYAS (sports ministry) and MOHFW (health ministry), the BCCI on Thursday announced that the remaining two One-day Internationals (ODIs) ... will be played without any public gathering, including spectators,” the board said in a statement.

The second ODI will be held in Lucknow before Kolkata’s Eden Gardens hosts the final match.

The International Cricket Council, the sport’s world ruling body, also said it will hold its board meetings at the end of March in Dubai via conference call. (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Pravin Char and Ed Osmond)

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