Covid-19 second wave disrupts SA sports calendar again

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NSA president Cecilia Molokwane said they will continue to take the lead from government and consult all relevant stakeholders as they take the much-needed steps to ensure that they protect lives. Picture: Reg Caldecott / Gallo
NSA president Cecilia Molokwane said they will continue to take the lead from government and consult all relevant stakeholders as they take the much-needed steps to ensure that they protect lives. Picture: Reg Caldecott / Gallo

SPORT


Barely a week into the new year, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing chaos in the world of sport.

Like it did last year, the coronavirus pandemic is again shredding the sporting calendar.

On Friday, the country’s football mother body, Safa, announced the suspension of all amateur football activities. The association’s decision was in response to the spike in new Covid-19 infections and deaths around the country.

On Wednesday, the PSL also announced that it had indefinitely suspended the programme of its reserve league, the DStv Diski Challenge. Four rounds of matches had already been played.

The PSL did not give any reasons for the suspension, but its decision came after the Kaizer Chiefs reserves’ match against AmaZulu was postponed because of the “heightened risk of Covid-19 infections”.

Meanwhile, Safa confirmed that all non-professional football matches had been called off.

“The suspension includes training sessions, courses, workshops and all matches. The matter will be reviewed by January 31, when the association will make further risk assessments and advise [on the way forward],” Safa said.

On Wednesday, the PSL also announced that it had indefinitely suspended the programme of its reserve league, the DStv Diski Challenge. Four rounds of matches had already been played.

“This extraordinary step is taken in the interest of the 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.”

The suspension leaves preparations for the Nedbank Cup in limbo. The R7 million tournament is contested by the 16 DStv Premiership teams, eight GladAfrica Championship teams and eight teams from the amateur ranks, the ABC Motsepe and SAB leagues.

With the NFD and premier divisions determined, the complete line-up of the 32 clubs that will compete in the cup competition is meant to be finalised this month.

The Covid-19 disruption means that this year’s Ke Yona tournament could be without teams from the Motsepe and SAB leagues.

This could force the PSL to make the unprecedented decision to stage the cup contest with just the Premiership and NFD teams.

Read: Safa calls off amateur football in the wake of Covid-19 second wave

Some provinces had already started the qualification process for the competition. The Eastern Cape and the Western Cape resolved to suspend games last month after some areas in the provinces were identified as virus hotspots.

Meanwhile, it’s not only football that has been disrupted again.

Netball has also ground to a halt after Netball SA (NSA) announced that it was calling off all its activities because of the pandemic.

NSA had planned to hold a training camp for the national Under-21 team, as well as stage the Spar Challenge in Cape Town and the national championships for men. All these events were scheduled to take place this month.

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

“As an executive, it was very important for us to take a decision to postpone all our planned activities until further notice.

This extraordinary step is taken in the interest of the 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
Safa

“We will continue to take the lead from government and consult all relevant stakeholders as we take the much-needed steps to ensure that we protect lives,” she said.

Also this week, the organisers of the Johnson Crane Marathon announced that the race and related events had been postponed.

The event was scheduled for January 26 at Willowmoore Park in Benoni, Ekurhuleni.

The race serves as a qualifier for the Two Oceans and Comrades marathons.

Meanwhile, there are growing concerns over whether the English Premier League will be able to complete the season on schedule due to the rising Covid-19 infections in the UK in general, and among players and staff at clubs.

Three matches were postponed last week because of cluster outbreaks at Fulham and Manchester City.

The world of sport could be back to square one should the situation not improve, with major events such as the Tokyo Olympic Games in July also under threat.


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Gomolemo Motshwane  

Sport journalist

+27 11 713 9001
gomolemo.motshwane@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park


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