The Under-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy, which was scheduled to begin in January 2022, has been postponed following a fresh surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in India and the growing threat of the Omicron variant. In a letter to the affiliated units of BCCI, which ESPNcricinfo has seen, BCCI secretary Jay Shah said that the primary reason for the postponement is because "participants are still not vaccinated and as such, are vulnerable," as those below 18 years of age are still not eligible to take the vaccine in the country.
"We have been closely monitoring the situation in lndia and across the world, and it is estimated that the caseload will shoot up in the immediate future if the situation is not controlled now," Shah said in the letter. "After consulting experts and seeking views of the medical teams and operations team, it has been decided that keeping health and safety in mind, the U16 Vijay Merchant Trophy is postponed for this season.
"We must exercise caution and not be adventurous and put the health of our talented cricketers at grave risk."
On Thursday, India reported 13,154 new Covid-19 cases, the number of active cases stands at 82,402.
The BCCI announced in July that it was confident that all tournaments, including those for various age groups and women, will be played this season.
"Ahead of the domestic season, we had said that will endeavor to have a full season across age groups," the letter further said. "We started off well and are now mid-way into the season having completed 748 matches when we have again encountered a serious issue, The cases across lndia are spiraling and despite being a large number of adults doubly vaccinated, they have still been infected."
The tournament was scheduled to be played between January 9 to 21, in four venues across Agartala and Guwahati.