New Delhi: Breaking the tradition, an HIV-positive person will toss the coin before the start of the first cricket Test between India and New Zealand at Ahmedabad next month as the International Cricket Council (ICC) joined global efforts to fight against HIV/AIDS.
ICC, on Thursday signed a partnership with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNSAID) in Mumbai, which aims at using the popularity of the game to raise awareness against HIV/AIDS in cricket-playing countries. The other objective of the move was to incorporate UNAIDS education and training messages and materials in ICC's own global development programme and encourage various cricket boards to support the HIV/AIDS issues, according to a release issued jointly by ICC and UNAIDS here.
"The threat of HIV/AIDS is many of the communities in which cricket is played is acute. I hope that through this partnership the ICC is able to play its part in helping UNAIDS turn the epidemic around," ICC chief Ehsan Mani said in Mumbai. In India, the BCCI will work with UNAIDS in a wide range of awareness-raising activities. These include the distribution of information materials on the disease to sports commentators and journalists. Out of 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, an estimated 12 million live in cricket playing countries.
The ICC president said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will be the first to take up the programme under the leadership of its president Jagmohan Dalmia. "To begin with, ICC will also auction one of the 13 bats signed by the cricketers of the match that will be played in South Africa in March next year and the funds raised will be given to the Indian AIDS programme," Mani said. The programme would help to run out' HIV/AIDS from the globe, he said. UNAIDS communication advisor Mahesh Mahalingam said the world body is also having a series of talks with several other sports bodies, both national and international, and hope to get support from them.