Comrades Marathon faces TV blackout

Comrades (File)
Comrades (File)

Cape Town - The Comrades Marathon, the long-distance jewel on the South African road-running calendar, faces a television blackout.

The race, the world's largest and oldest ultra-marathon, is scheduled for Sunday, June 9 - now only 45 days away - and is in serious danger of suffering the same fate that befell last weekend's Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon which wasn't screened by the SABC.

This year's Comrades "up run", will start from the City Hall in Durban and finish at the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg, covering a distance of 87km.

Athletics South Africa (ASA) failed to agree terms with the cash-strapped SABC on covering the Two Oceans Marathon - which was celebrating its 50th anniversary - and there is no deal in place at present regarding the Comrades.

Those interested in following the Two Oceans Marathon live were forced to watch a live stream of the race as their only option, early on Easter Saturday.

According to the HeraldLIVE website, Comrades Marathon GM Keletso Totlhanyo confirmed that there is no deal between ASA and SABC, but said the parties are "working around the clock to ensure that there is no blackout".

"The rights of the Comrades Marathon are with ASA and we rely on them to do a deal with SABC," she said.

"We have requested permission from ASA to talk directly with the SABC and we are meeting them on Thursday (April 25) to see if we can find each other. We are left with 45 days to the event and time is really not on our side.

"We are hoping that we can finalise everything as soon as possible so planning can start in earnest because, as I said, time is really not on our side," she said, adding that she is hopeful a deal will be struck soon.

SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu expressed regret that they could not televise the Two Oceans Marathon, but did not want to comment on the possible blackout of the Comrades Marathon.

"We would like to show events like the Two Oceans Marathon, but unfortunately couldn't conclude a deal with ASA.

"With regards to the Comrades Marathon, I am not in a position to comment on the matter," she said.

ASA acting president and road running commission chairperson James Moloi also confirmed that they don't have a contract with the SABC.

"We are negotiating with the SABC and we are meeting them on April 25 because that is the date that they gave us," said Moloi.

"If there is no contract, there is nothing that we can do but we are meeting them so that we can speed up the process.

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