ANC backs ASA on race

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

The African National Congress has come out with guns blazing in support of Athletics South Africa's decision to move the popular Comrades Marathon to June 17.

In the past, the gruelling marathon, which attracts multitudes of runners from as far as Russia, Germany, United States and Namibia, was run on June 16.

This resulted in a number of political and community organisations meeting with ASA to request them to change the date as it clashed with the Youth Day celebrations.

After deliberations with other athletics stakeholders, the ASA board agreed that the marathon will from this year be run on the Sunday closest to June 16.

Butana Komphela, top ANC leader, said: "The decision taken by the ASA board to move the Comrades Marathon to June 17 is the right one.

"We fully support Leonard Chuene (ASA president) and his board on this matter. June 16 is an important day in the history of our country and we need to observe it.

"As the ANC, we are in full support of the change from June 16 to any other day. We will be issuing a statement during the week to reaffirm our support for Chuene.

"I'm aware that the ANC Youth League will also be doing the same thing this week. We urge all South Africans to support ASA," said Komphela.

Chuene said he did not understand why certain people were blaming him for moving the marathon from the traditional June 16 date.

"There were meetings last year with political and community structures who expressed their concerns at the race taking place on June 16. We agreed that it won't take place on June 16 anymore. It was a decision taken in the best interests of the Comrades Marathon.

"You will recall that there are many athletics activities taking place in KwaZulu-Natal on Sundays, some of them are marathons and ultra marathons.

"We have not heard a single person complaining about the fact that there are activities taking place in the province on Sunday. I fail to understand why certain people are now accusing us of being anti-Christians by staging the Comrades on a Sunday."