Sport24 Wire
2 minute read
30 May 2020
2:27 pm

Back to training as sport codes get thumbs up

Sport24 Wire

Non-contact professional sport contests can be held from next month, government has confirmed, but federations will first need to prove they have sufficient safety protocols in place.

Elite rugby players are among those who can resume training next month, once safety proposals have been approved by government. Picture: Gallo Images

Professional athletes and teams in South Africa can resume training on June 1, under level three of the national lockdown regulations.

That was the message from sports minister Nathi Mthethwa on Saturday as he confirmed that professional contact sports, including football and rugby, would be allowed to return to training in a staggered, controlled manner.

Non-contact professional sports, meanwhile, were given the green light to resume training and competing.

However, all federations which wanted their codes to resume training or playing would have 14 days to submit their proposals to government to map out, procedurally, how they would ensure the safety of the players and officials involved.

All sports events would take place behind closed doors in empty stadiums, government confirmed, and the control measures would be strict, with massages, ice-baths and saunas all banned, while physiotherapists would be able to work only on injured athletes.

“This is the news sport has been waiting to hear as it allows us to begin to ramp up preparations for an eventual return-to-play,” said SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux, in reaction to the announcement.

“We submitted a comprehensive, staged return-to-play protocols document to the department five weeks ago and we are ready to begin medical screening of players immediately.

“We will seek further clarity from the department on the application of the guidelines as they apply to contact training, but this is an opportunity for our players to enhance their lockdown training regimes by increasing their fitness work for an eventual return to play.”

Mthethwa said his department would continue to engage with the various national federations.

“Safa welcomes such continued engagements, mindful of the negative financial impact Covid-19 has had on sport in general,” said SA Football Association acting chief executive Tebogo Motlanthe.

“Football, rugby and cricket are among the major sporting codes that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic.”

Not all codes were pleased with the decision, however, and GolfRSA said it was disappointed that amateur athletes had not been given the green light, again claiming it was crucial for golf clubs to be reopened in order to relaunch an industry which was on the verge of collapse.

“Golf clubs in the main worldwide derive their revenue from amateur golfers playing golf and this is essential for golf courses to survive,” GolfRSA said in a statement.

“There are approximately 40 000 people employed by golf clubs across South Africa, and 85% of these employees fall in the most vulnerable economic sector. Our overriding priority is to save jobs without adding any risk.

“All South African golf bodies are united in their belief that we are well prepared for a safe return of golf. We have the necessary protocols in place.”

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