Athletics SA threatens to disqualify‚ ban Two Oceans runners who wear Save SA black armbands

Durban protesters gather at the Circus Site for the march. Photo: Jackie Clausen
Durban protesters gather at the Circus Site for the march. Photo: Jackie Clausen

Runners in the Two Oceans Marathon who wear black armbands in support of the Save South Africa campaign will be disqualified and reserve the right to ban athletes who do so‚ says Athletics South Africa (ASA).

But Save SA Save committee member Mark Heywood‚ who also heads up the public interest law centre promoting human rights‚ says he will be among those wearing black armbands on Saturday‚ which “signify that our country is in danger“.

He said more than 1 000 runners have already committed to wearing black armbands and called on more runners – and spectators along the route – to do the same.

The armbands symbolise South Africans’ support for “a government free from corruption and nepotism‚ and in support of a national leadership that is ethical‚ respects our Constitution and Acts in the interest of the people”‚ Save SA said in a statement on Friday.

ASA has also threatened to sanction the Two Oceans Marathon organisers if they are “found to be complicit” with the black armbands campaign‚ said Heywood.

Sports24 reported that race organisers said on Thursday that runners and supporters should not use the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon for “political activities“.

“No event held under the auspices of the IAAF‚ ASA and WPA may be used for political campaigning‚” organisers said.

Save SA said it had emphasised that this is not a political protest‚ but “we will abide by their rules”.

“We need to emphasise that our message is one of unity‚ not protest‚ and is aligned to the Two Oceans Marathon campaign of ‘Run for more than yourself’.”

Heywood said the black armbands campaign was legal: “We have a constitutional right to freedom of expression. I’ve done over 150 marathons‚ including 17 Comrades. I’ve seen people express themselves on every race they’ve run. We used to do it for the Treatment Action Campaign with our HIV positive bibs and buses. Tomorrow we wear black to signify that our country is in danger.”

He urged runners to be aware of the implications of their participation in the black armbands campaign and to familiarise themselves with the regulations.

 

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