British & Irish Lions

SA Rugby pleads for 50% spectators in attempt to salvage Lions tour

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SA Rugby president Mark Alexander during the South African national rugby team arrival media conference at OR Tambo International Airport on 5 November 2019 (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander during the South African national rugby team arrival media conference at OR Tambo International Airport on 5 November 2019 (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Sydney Seshibedi

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has reportedly pleaded with Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa to allow 50% spectator entry at stadiums for the British and Irish Lions tour.

Alexander and fellow SA Rugby bigwigs are fighting desperately to make sure the Lions tour takes place in South Africa but they would also prefer it's done with spectator involvement.

Sunday weekly newspaper Rapport reported that Mthethwa, who said in February as the country was easing to level 1 of lockdown that it was too early to talk about fans' return to stadiums, had received similar requests for 50% games attendance allowance from other sporting federations.

Alexander estimated that about R6.6 billion would be lost to the South African economy if the Lions tour was held in the UK, as presently being discussed, and that the tour would aid the economy get back on track after the Covid-19 pandemic havoc. 

"This (Lions tour) will help our economy get back on track and also help the tourism industry overcome the negative effects brought about by Covid-19 pandemic, as well as stop the loss of staff through retrenchments," Alexander told Rapport

"All sectors of our society must help the economy get back on track."

Recently, SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona told Sport24 that they would rather have the tour held here in SA, even without spectator involvement, than have it played in various parts of the UK. 

"We've probably reached a stage where even a restricted [event] would be better than none at all," Ntshona told Sport24.

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