Return of non-contact major sports events behind closed doors
The government has opened the way for some‚ non-contact professional sport to take place behind closed doors at level 3 of the national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This can mean a return of non-contact major sports events – such as golf‚ tennis‚ most athletics events‚ and perhaps even cricket – in front of empty stadiums and venues next month.
As the new regulations stand‚ contact sports such as rugby and football remain prohibited‚ even in closed stadiums.
However‚ such a ruling does appear to open the way for contact sports to at least resume non-contact fitness training in level 3‚ seemingly paving the way for matches to resume behind closed doors at level 2.
The phased exit from the national lockdown transitions from level 4 to level 3 on Monday (June 1).
The regulations announced by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Thursday afternoon clarifying the stipulations of the level 3 phase of lockdown‚ including section 37 on “Gatherings”.
Section 37.1 states: “All gatherings are prohibited except a gathering at – … (e) a professional non-contact sports match‚ which may include players‚ match officials‚ journalists and medical and television crew‚ as per directions issued by the Cabinet member responsible for sport after consultation with the Cabinet member responsible for health.”
All major sports in South Africa have been shut down under the terms – and many from before that – of the lockdown initially imposed by the government on March 27.
The Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) executive committee‚ meanwhile‚ were in a meeting on Thursday believed to be taking a report-back on a joint PSL and SA Football Association (Safa) task team that has been investigating conditions for a safe return to play for professional football.