LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday received a big boost after getting all approvals and exemptions from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Government to stage the remaining Pakistan Super League (PSL) VI matches in Abu Dhabi. The sixth season, which started off in Karachi in February, had to be suspended in March because of COVID-19 outbreak among players and support staff. At the time, the PCB had said the decision had been taken out of consideration for the health and wellbeing of all participants in the tournament. Like the PSL, which was postponed midway through the season, the Indian Premier League (IPL) was also suspended in May after the emergence of positive COVID-19 cases in the bio-secure bubble created for the participating teams. The PCB identified the June window to play out the rest of the season in Karachi. But a decision to move out of Karachi was taken earlier this month, after worries about an impending surge in COVID-19 cases in the city. The UAE has always a frontrunner, given it was Pakistan’s home for international cricket for so long and the birthplace of the PSL. A seven-member PCB team has been in the UAE since last week to get required approvals from the authorities through the Emirates Cricket Board. The development has, no doubt, put the PCB over the moon and is a blessing for the PSL. This was the second time in a row the PSL had been disrupted by COVID-19, though in 2020 the PCB was able to rearrange the outstanding final games in November. On Wednesday the PCB had delayed a decision on the fate of the PSL VI by 24 hours after they couldn’t secure some critical exemptions from the Abu Dhabi Government. Franchises and officials had been told to delay departure plans from Pakistan and given that the PSL was due to restart on June 1, a postponement seemed a distinct possibility. But in less than 24 hours, the PCB received much needed approval and exemption it was seeking. The PSL management will now talk to the six franchises to rework logistics and firm up departure plans, with the start date of the tournament almost certainly rejigged. “We are delighted with this development as the remaining hurdles in the staging of the remaining HBL PSL 6 matches in Abu Dhabi have been overcome and all systems are now good to go,” said PCB chief executive Wasim Khan in a statement. “We are grateful to the UAE Government, National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, Emirates Cricket Board and Abu Dhabi Sports Council for their support and patronage in ensuring all final obstacles were removed, which has firmly put us in a position to complete our marquee event,” he added. Wasim said the PCB, in consultation with the team owners, would now work at pace to finalise all event-related arrangements, details of which will be shared in due course. “I take this opportunity to thank my staff for their untiring efforts and hard work that included sacrificing their Eid-ul-Fitr holidays in an effort to ensure the PCB honours its commitment to its fans to hold the remaining matches of the tournament in June. The holding of the remaining matches in Abu Dhabi will allow our fans to once again follow and support their favourite players and teams through our high-quality broadcast coverage of one of the most competitive cricket leagues in the world,” he stated. The exemptions sought by the PCB, for staging the event, were critical and included provisions for players, officials and broadcast and production staff flying in from India and South Africa. Travel restrictions are currently in place in the UAE for visitors from those two countries because of the COVID-19 pandemic but agreements. Those flying in from the two countries will have to quarantine for 10 days in a separate hotel to where the rest of the teams are staying. Everyone from India and South Africa will arrive by chartered flight. The six franchises and league officials will have to go through seven days of the quarantine in the UAE, with teams put up in three different hotels –– two teams in each hotel. Players from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will go to Pakistan, and travel onto the UAE by chartered flights –– one each from Lahore and Karachi. Because of the fluid nature of the pandemic in different parts of the world, there are actually travel restrictions to the UAE from several countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which is why chartered flights will be used. No crowds are expected to be allowed at the stadium for the games, even though the UAE has been allowing limited numbers back for sports events. In a further indication of the keenness to ensure the season goes ahead, the PCB has agreed to bear the incremental costs of the league being shifted to Abu Dhabi.