OPINION | SA government out of touch on return to sport

The South African government - more specifically the Department of Sport and Recreation - appears disturbingly out of touch with the rest of the world regarding the reintroduction of sport in the current grim coronavirus era.

This applies particularly at the recreational and social level of non-contact sport like tennis and golf, while failing also to join the increasing number of countries surfacing worldwide in sanctioning the resumption of professional soccer leagues under specific safety regulations.

South Africa's continued restrictions in these areas is potentially affecting the health of hundreds of thousands of South Africans.

This is the widespread opinion of the medical profession, who see the depriving of physical routines from those who have experienced them as part of their lives for years as making them more vulnerable to fall victim to the present pandemic.

No one, at the same, has suggested lessening the strict precautions implemented to counter coronavirus, but as a devastating indictment of South Africa's unbending approach in regard to non-contact sport is the fact that the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has not only opened the doors of participation at recreational and training level to all players, but 116 of its 148 affiliate voting nations - amounting to approximately 80 percent - have taken up the directive and opened their courts to all players, albeit under a series of firm conditions.

Many of these countries, in addition, incurring a great deal more coronavirus infections than South Africa.

All this, while the government's actions - or lack of them - have stymied South Africa becoming the 117th nation returning to the courts in numbers, even if only in singles.

What is more, they have shown little logic in permitting running, jogging and cycling in what appears greater and questionable numbers.

The return of professional soccer, albeit in the shape of Absa Premiership is another kettle of fish.

Sanctioned by FIFA, similar leagues like the German Bundesliga, the English Premier League, Spain's La Liga, the Italian Serie A Championship and many others, are either already in progress or due to resume shortly.

And in South Africa? Talk, more talk and still more talk - overlooking that games even without spectators would also ease the lingering state of depression into which millions have descended in the wake of the health crisis.

A declaration to the government from nine non-contact sports associations has also emphasised the financial damage the sporting isolation is causing to the country in its entirety.

But perhaps more relevant is the damage to the health of the stymied and frustrated competitors, who, apart from anything else, are systematically becoming more vulnerable to the coronavirus, as a result of depriving them of their long-standing exercise routines.

The failure of the government to recognise this recalls the sentiment voiced by one Henry Adams that "the mind resorts to reason for want of training" - something the Department of Sport and Recreation could well embrace.

Mental training, that is, not the exercise in question for hundreds of thousands of deprived South Africans!

loading... Live
Luton Town 0
Manchester United 2
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
42% - 7721 votes
11% - 1954 votes
19% - 3525 votes
3% - 462 votes
1% - 169 votes
2% - 437 votes
5% - 903 votes
8% - 1528 votes
3% - 606 votes
Water sports
1% - 167 votes
American sports
1% - 216 votes
3% - 565 votes