It was billed as the most anticipated cricket event of the year, held in the sport’s biggest stadium globally, in a country that is known to worship the game.
But when the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 finally got underway in India on Thursday, only a few thousand seats were occupied in a stadium that was revamped for the tournament in order to house at least 120,000 spectators.
— Adil Ray OBE (@adilray) October 5, 2023
As England and New Zealand squared off at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium, which was renamed after the Indian prime minister in 2021, cricket fans took to social media to express their shock at the rows of empty saffron-coloured seats glaring back at them.
England women’s cricketer Danni Wyatt asked “Where’s the crowd?” in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Jemimah Rodrigues, her Indian counterpart, responded by saying the crowd is waiting for India’s match against Pakistan on Saturday, October 14.
Fans have been critical of the tournament’s scheduling and ticketing process.
The first batch of tickets went on sale on August 25, less than six weeks before the opening match, making it difficult for travelling fans to put plans into place.
Indian cricket fans, who had been waiting for years to watch the sport’s biggest event in their backyard, told Al Jazeera they had given up on their dream of supporting their team at home.
Netizens took to social media to express their discontentment, directing their criticisms towards the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the organizing body, and the host nation, India.
Shocking. To say the least https://t.co/WRM0984dFL
— Vikrant Gupta (@vikrantgupta73) October 3, 2023
Critics labeled it a disgrace on the part of the BCCI for failing to ensure that the seating arrangements were in proper order.