Boost for hopes of seeing fans back in the stands

17 March 2021 - 13:35
By mahlatse mphahlele AND Mahlatse Mphahlele
Sport fans are keen to return to stadiums for games and events.
Image: Gallo Images Sport fans are keen to return to stadiums for games and events.

Hopes of seeing fans back in the stands received a massive boost on Wednesday when it emerged the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) are working with federations on a comprehensive plan that could pave the way for this becoming a reality in the coming weeks.

Professional sport resumed activities last year under strict health and safety protocols as prescribed by the government‚ but there are growing murmurs of discontent as fans have not been allowed at venues since the outbreak of Covid-19 a year ago.

President Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country to lockdown level 1 last month and the move was accompanied by renewed calls for government to consider allowing a controlled number of fans at sporting venues.

“There is a committee that has been set up at Sascoc to work with cricket‚ an events company‚ SA Rugby‚ golf‚ cycling and tennis‚ and they are working on a document that will be presented to government regarding the return of fans to the stadiums‚” Sascoc president Barry Hendricks told TimesLIVE on Wednesday.

“After urgent consultation with the Sascoc membership‚ the committee will present the document to the department of sport and officials there will then hand it over to the minister [Nathi Mthethwa].

"That is where we are now.

"We are liaising and we are using the documentation from rugby and cricket and other sports to put the document together.

“We will send out the first draft to the Sascoc membership so  they can be included in this process. Federations have different criteria and requirements and that’s where we are now.”

Hendricks said they will engage the SA Football Association (Safa) since president Danny Jordaan has returned to SA after working on Patrice Motsepe's successful bid for the Confederation of African Football presidency.

“He (Jordaan) hasn’t been part of the process‚ but now that he has arrived back from Morocco‚ we are going to bring them in as well. Safa are going to be part of the process going forward‚” said Hendricks.

The department of sport reiterated their stance that the sporting fraternity must approach government through Sascoc with their proposals about how they are likely to manage the process of welcoming fans back to stadiums.

“The sport sector, via Sascoc, needs to approach the department/ministry with proposals on how they plan to return fans into stadiums.

"They must do it the same way they did when they approached the department/minister with plans and proposals for return to play [last year].

"The decision will be taken into consideration based on what is permitted at this particular lockdown level,” said sport department spokesperson \ Masechaba Khumalo.