Sport Staff
3 minute read
27 Nov 2021
8:14 am

Covid fear, travel ban leave South African sport reeling

Sport Staff

Tournaments and events involving international sports men and women in rugby, cricket and golf have been affected.

A new Covid strain and a travel ban has hit South African sport hard in the last two days, and empty, quiet stadiums, like Loftus Versfeld, will again be the order of the day. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

Just as things were starting to get back to a semblance of normalcy for the South African sporting fraternity, SA sport was thrown straight back into complete disarray on Friday after the UK and EU made snap decisions to return the country to the travel red list.

This after a new Covid variant was discovered in the country, however little is known about it including how transmissible it is or whether it shows more serious symptoms, while it may have already spread to the UK and Europe.

Despite this SA has been closed off from both, leading to two home rounds of the United Rugby Championship being postponed, the Proteas international series between the Netherlands and India thrown into jeopardy and major golfing tournaments seeing mass withdrawals.

On Friday URC organisers released a statement explaining that due to the sudden developments the round six and seven matches would be rescheduled for later this season.

Part of the statement read: “The safety and well-being of our participating clubs’ players, coaches, support staff and match officials is the foremost priority and the URC is currently working with the four visiting clubs – Cardiff Rugby, Munster Rugby, Scarlets and Zebre Parma – to facilitate their return as soon as possible.”

Round six was set to see the long awaited return of SA rugby fans to the stadium to watch professional rugby for the first time since the pandemic started, with a capacity of 2000 allowed.

The Lions were seto to face Cardiff and Munster, Bulls were up against Munster and Scarlets, Sharks were taking on Scarlets and Zebre and the Stormers were to play Zebre and Cardiff, but these will all now be rescheduled.

On the Proteas front they saw their opening ODI against the Netherlands at Centurion washed out on Friday, with rumours swirling that the Netherlands were set to fly home.

However CSA issued a statement on Friday afternoon saying it was highly unlikely that the tourists will be able to leave before the end of the weekend and may only be able to leave on December 2 due to the lack of flights, which could see series completed.

However the major blow to CSA and the Proteas would be if the India tour, which is set to start on December 17, gets canceled.

India are set to fly to South Africa on December 8, but reports suggest the BCCI is waiting for their government to make a decision regarding travel to SA.

On the golfing front ongoing Joburg Open golf tournament at Randpark saw 20 European-based golfers, out of the field of 156, withdrew before the second round began, but will be completed.

The SA Open Championship to be played at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City from 2-5 December, will also still be played as scheduled but it will go ahead as a solely Sunshine Tour event, while the Alfred Dunhill Championship scheduled to be played at Leopard Creek Country Club from 9-12 December, has been cancelled due to the adverse effect the travel restrictions will have on the field.