Responding to questions from the press, Transport ministry director-general Alec Moemi said on Saturday 30 May that athletes and teams might be permitted to travel out of hotspots for training or matches.
Moemi said that the finer details of such travel arrangements still needed to be ironed out between the transport department and the ministry of sports, arts and culture.
Athletes might be permitted to leave hotspots
Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa confirmed on Friday that non-contact sports could stage matches under lockdown level 3. There is a caveat; in that, no events or training can take place in the so-called hotspots with high rates of infection.
“Resumption of non-contact sports training and matches in areas declared as hot spots by the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, upon recommendation by cabinet member responsible for health, and in consultation with the cabinet, is prohibited,” Mthethwa said.
This prompted a query from the press regarding the possibility of individual athletes or teams, travelling out of hotspots for matches or training.
“This could be permissible considering the nature of the sports,” Moemi said.
“Because right now our counterparts in the department of sports‚ arts and culture have issued new directions that allow for non-contact sports to be played. However, those sports cannot be played in some hotspots that have been designated.
“Can they play in non-hotspot areas? Certainly. Can the professional athletes who are allowed to go back to training train in non-hotspot areas? Certainly yes.
“So the protocols, however, of the movement of those people for that purpose is what we and the department of sports‚ arts and culture can resolve between ourselves.”
Nothing set in stone
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said that nothing surrounding the coronavirus was set in stone, during a media briefing that covered a spread of transport related issues.
Cricket South Africa is hopeful of hosting India in a T20I series in August but could see their choices of venue limited by the hotspot regulations. The hotspot metros Johannesburg‚ Tshwane‚ Ekurhuleni‚ Ethekwini‚ Nelson Mandela Bay‚ Buffalo City and Cape Town are all home to major international cricket stadiums.
The ban would also affect plans SA Rugby have for a six-team franchise series. If strictly enforced the ban on training in hotspots could mean that only the Free State Cheetahs would be allowed to train. The door remains open for franchises to set up camp outside of the hotspots.
All sports that wish to resume activity of any kind will need to present return plans to the department of sports, arts and culture within 14 days.