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Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa says 2,000 spectators remains the rule

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa says the government remains committed to opening stadiums but the decision is not made by only one person.
Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa says the government remains committed to opening stadiums but the decision is not made by only one person.
Image: Department of Sport

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa remains steadfast that current regulations allowing just 2,000 spectators at stadiums remain in place — but the next national coronavirus command council (NCCC) meeting will discuss whether to increase the numbers.

It is not clear when the NCCC will meet next.

EFF leader Julius Malema has led a public fight with the government to open stadiums and entertainment activities but Mthethwa reiterated that the matter must go through  government processes.

“We hope that in the next meeting something may come up because we see the relaxing of the situation,” he said after he rewarded Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies players with R1m for winning the CAF Women’s Champions League last year in Egypt.

“One thing we have said is that, even though we have pushed for the opening of venues for fans and spectators, we are not going to be reckless.

"We will hear what scientists tell us and move from that point of view.”

Mthethwa added that attendance at stadiums would have been at 75% capacity now if it was not for the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in December.

“We went to cabinet last year and gave them our phased-in approach, starting  with 2,000 spectators to be followed by 50%, 75% and 100%.

“At this point, if everything had gone according to our plan, we would be at 75% attendance in stadiums.

"But Omicron emerged and scuppered everything. However, right now we are encouraged to see that the variant has passed its peak.

“We are positive about that and that is why the department is working with experts, people in sports and people in the creative sector.

"We are guided by science and the health department with their epidemiologists and scientists.

“We will listen to what the experts say and as far as we are concerned, we want to see stadiums opened and we want to see events because it has to do with livelihoods.

“It is in the interest of government to have stadiums and the economy opened and people back to work.”

Mthethwa said he understands public sentiment about opening stadiums.

“We have had people expressing the same sentiment that look at the opportunity costs, they feel that perhaps they should not stage some of the events and some sporting activities.

“That is their call to make, ours is that we continue to engage the command council.

"There is no-one minister who can make the decision. It has to go through the processes of government, the command council and then cabinet.”

TimesLIVE


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