As India is battling a severe health crisis caused by the second COVID-19 wave, Australian cricket has extended its full support, with Cricket Australia (CA), the Australian Cricketers' Association and UNICEF Australia joining hands to raise much-needed funds.
India is reporting over 3 lakh COVID-19 cases for over 10 days now and the health infrastructure is struggling to cope with the crisis, failing to provide oxygen and crucial medicines to the infected patients.
“Cricket has been deeply saddened by the devastation caused by this second coronavirus wave to hit India, a country with which Australians share a strong friendship and connection,” CA said in a statement.
“UNICEF Australia's India COVID-19 Crisis Appeal is procuring and installing oxygen generation plants in hospitals to treat seriously ill patients, providing testing equipment in heavily impacted districts, and supporting the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines via the COVAX initiative.
“Cricket Australia will make an initial donation of $50,000 and encourage Australians everywhere to give generously at this critical time in India's COVID-19 response,” the statement further read.
In an official statement, Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia's Interim CEO, said: "Australians and Indians share a special bond and, for many, our mutual love of cricket is central to that friendship. It has been distressing and saddening to learn of the suffering of so many of our Indian sisters and brothers during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and our hearts go out to everyone impacted."
"We were all deeply moved by the sentiments expressed and donations given by Pat Cummins and Brett Lee over the past week. In that same spirit, we are proud to partner with UNICEF Australia to raise funds that will help the people of India by providing the health system with much-needed oxygen, testing equipment and vaccines," he added.
Last week, Pat Cummins donated USD 50,000 while Brett Lee contributed one Bitcoin (Rs 41 lakhs approx) in India’s fight against the deadly virus.
In welcoming the partnership with Australian Cricket, UNICEF Australia CEO Tony Stuart said: "We know that sport has the power to bring people together and there has never been a more important time."
"UNICEF has been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic and as the world's largest children's charity we know the devastating and life-long consequences this emergency will have, in particular, on children and young people," he further remarked.
(With ANI inputs)