Sports minister assembles experts to monitor sports’ return to training

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa last week gave permission for non-contact and contact sports to resume training.
Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa last week gave permission for non-contact and contact sports to resume training.
Image: Trevor Samson

Minister of sport Nathi Mthethwa is assembling a team of experts to monitor and enforce health and safety compliance by sporting bodies, national teams and clubs as they return to controlled training and playing.

Professional sport has been suspended for more than three months in SA by the outbreak of Covid-19 but last week Mthethwa gave permission for non-contact and contact sports to resume training.

Non-contact sports can also resume play under stringent conditions.

“Minister Nathi Mthethwa is in the process of appointing a team that will then be workshopped and provided with the necessary tools. The department will be giving the minister the whole plan and monitoring teams next week,” said ministry spokesperson Masechaba Khumalo.

“The monitoring team has not yet started its work or finalised its criteria but it is envisaged that they will draw up a schedule to ensure that they monitor a spread of codes across the sporting landscape.”

In the Premier Soccer League (PSL), Cape Town City became the first club to resume training on Thursday after Mthethwa approved the watertight plan by the SA Football Association (Safa) and the league for clubs to return to training, and ultimately to play in a biologically safe environment (BSE).

“The PSL has provided their measures in the plans which have been assessed and found to be compliant with the protocols. The responsibilities of the panel [monitoring team] will be to ensure that sport bodies comply with what they have committed to in their plans,” Khumalo said.

“They have committed themselves to taking measures to safeguard employees and athletes, have plans in place to ensure social distancing, sanitising, screening, environmental cleaning and how cases are dealt with should they arise, and so on.”

Cricket South Africa (CSA) this week named a high-performance training squad for the Proteas after the authorisation by the minister for sport to return to controlled training.

CSA also confirmed that their innovative 3TeamCricket tournament has been rescheduled to take place on July 18, which is the birthday of former president Nelson Mandela, at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

The tournament, which consists of three teams of eight players each to be captained by AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada, was initially supposed to have taken place on June 27.

Other major sporting codes are also working on plans to return to safe training and full competition in the coming weeks so that they can complete their programmes that have been in limbo for three months.

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