Sports minister Mthethwa slams CMA – ‘Comrades Marathon will never go on’

Minister of Sports Nathi Mthethwa during the 2019 Carling Black Label Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on the 27 July 2019.
Minister of Sports Nathi Mthethwa during the 2019 Carling Black Label Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on the 27 July 2019.
Image: ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa has strongly slammed Tuesday’s statement by the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) where they declared that the marathon will go ahead as planned‚ pending a decision on April 17‚ as “irresponsible”.

Multiple sports events have been cancelled in the wake of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national emergency declared on Sunday‚ where one of the measures was a prohibition on gatherings of 100 people or more.

On Tuesday morning‚ CMA chairperson Cheryl Winn said in a statement that: “With nearly three months to go to Comrades 2020‚ the CMA Board has decided that it is premature to postpone this year’s Comrades Marathon.

“We will‚ however‚ continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and will make a decision by April 17 depending upon how the situation evolves on whether to postpone the Comrades 2020 to a date later in the year.”

CMA said they will make a final decision on April 17 of the future of the 95th edition of the race that is scheduled to take place on June 14‚ and which annually attracts 15‚000 runners.

Mthethwa was speaking during Tuesday’s high-powered meeting with various sports stakeholders that included major federations like the SA Football Association‚ Premier Soccer League‚ Cricket SA and SA Rugby to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The minister strongly condemned the stance taken by the CMA.

“It was an irresponsible statement that was made earlier today by Comrades Marathon that they will go on like nothing has happened. We want to reiterate that nothing will go on – Comrades Marathon will never go on.

“We are dealing with a problem of the highest proportion here‚” said Mthethwa who reiterated government's stance on gatherings of more than 100 people.

“I don’t know how the event will take place if they still have to come to government and apply. It is a very irresponsible statement and I want to say that very strongly.

“This statement should not be followed through – it is a terrible statement. It just needs to be dealt with decisively so that it doesn’t go through.

“Almost all our sporting codes have been on the ball on this matter and we should continue to move with one voice and we have to come together.”

Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana said the CMA will not be releasing any statements from now on and they will to follow directives from ASA.

“Long before we came here to the meeting I had a call from the minister saying Comrades Marathon are saying they are going to have their race come rain or sunshine‚” said Skhosana.

“ASA issued a statement earlier that we will embark on informing our members after the April 15 on the status of whether all competitions are going to carry on or what. We stick by that and Comrades will not issue any other statements from now on.”

X