While the Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the long-overdue resuming of professional non-contact sports announced by the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, on Saturday, we call for clarity on the inconsistencies of the regulations that were announced.
The Minister needs to give clarity on which athletes are considered “professional” and give reasons why amateur non-contact athletes have been excluded.
There are also inconsistencies of who can train for non-contact sports. For example, why can professional contact sports such as rugby and soccer begin training, yet non-contact sport codes such as table tennis, powerlifting, pigeon racing, and shooting, have seemingly been overlooked.
We have also noted that under the newly announced regulations, training and matches will remain prohibited in hotspot areas. These regulations are ridiculous, and will only serve to hamstring the sports sector.
The Minister must clarify these regulations before they are gazetted.
The resuming of non-contact sports is an important step in bringing relief to those athletes who were unable to access a stable income during the lockdown, and who could not apply or did not qualify for Covid-19 relief funding.
The industry has suffered from a lack of proper support from the Department of Sport, Arts, and Culture. Since the beginning of the lockdown and in employing its relief measures, athletes have been left out in the cold in terms of both information and aid. A small handful of athletes were lucky enough to be supported by the Department whose criteria for approval of those who qualified for funding were opaque and confusing at best.
The same can be said for the new regulations, which raises more questions than it answers.
The DA again calls for the Minister to reopen all codes of non-contact sports in South Africa for all levels of participants – from amateur to professional. We also call on the Minister to allow for all non-contact sports matches to take place without spectators, and under strict adherence to health and Covid-19 protocols. South Africa is part of the global community and the Minster must learn from what other governments are doing to ensure the survival of sports worldwide.
Tsepo Mhlongo – DA