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Sports federations move to halt activity amidst Covid-19 second wave

Sports federations move to halt activity amidst Covid-19 second wave

Two sports federations, the South African Football Association and Netball South Africa, moved to suspend activity as a countermeasure to the rapidly rising Covid-19 cases in the country.

On Friday, following the rapid rise of recorded Covid-19 cases in recent days, the South African Football Association (Safa) decided to suspend all non-professional football in the country.

The association said the suspension includes training sessions, courses, workshops and all matches, adding that they would review the matter by 31 January 2021.

“This extraordinary step is taken in the interest of safety of players, technical staff, administrators, match officials, the media and all other personnel involved in the organisation and staging of matches and other football events,” read a statement by Safa.

Structures affected by this include the Sasol Women’s League, the Safa National Women’s League and the third tier of men’s football in the country – the ABC Motsepe League.

The mother body of South African football added that professional football in the country, as overseen by the Premier Soccer League (PSL), would continue as normal.

“Professional football will continue under the measures already being implemented by our special member, the National Soccer League,” said Safa.

“This must, however, be done in compliance with the applicable protocols of government’s risk adjusted strategy of the Disaster Management Act with respect to the curfew and closure of venues and as it is further explained in the directives issued by the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture.”

The decision by Safa comes in the wake of the PSL’s announcement on Thursday, 7 January, that it was suspending the DStv Premiership’s reserve league, the DStv Diski Challenge until further notice.

Netball South Africa has also halted activities, but since the sport is yet to be fully professionalised in the country, the federation has opted to suspend all planned activity for the foreseeable future.

Postponed activities include the Under-21 training camp which was scheduled for 11 – 15 January 2021; the Spar Challenge, which was to take place in Cape Town between the 20 and 27 January; and the Male National Championships.

Netball SA said the decision was taken unanimously by its president, Cecilia Molokwane, and her executive committee.

“As the country continues to see Covid-19 numbers rising, it is very scary seeing what is going on around us. We see numbers rising and these numbers are names of people that we know,” said Molokwane.

“As an executive, it was very important for us to take a decision to postpone all our planned activities until further notice. We will continue to take (the) lead from the government and consult all relevant stakeholders as we take all the much-needed steps to ensure that we protect lives.”

The federation stated that it will continue to be in consultation with the Department of Sports, as well as the Department of Health, and will monitor the situation to make the best decision for the sport.

It is unclear whether the government – after the country recorded more than 20,000 new Covid-19 cases in a 24-hour period for the second day in a row on Thursday – will enforce even stricter regulations which will further affect sports federations, and their ability to operate. DM

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