4 May 2020 – While contact sports such as soccer and rugby have to brace themselves for the ‘long haul’ , the government is considering a request for professional golf to resume, as well as the opening of golf clubs around the country.
Professional sporting events, as well as recreational sport, were stopped in March following the the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa. Most of these events will only be able to contunue once South Africa reaches Level 2 lockdown restrictions. The country is currently on Level 4, which doesn’t allow for any sporting activity, although recreational athletes are allowed to run, walk and cycle between 6am and 9am in the morning.
The Absa Premiership, South Africa’s top-flight football league, was postponed with many rounds of matches still to be played. Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns are locked in an almighty battle for the league title, but there is uncertainty about when or if the league will resume.
Many leagues in Europe are preparing to resume in the next month, but others in the Netherlands and France have already been called off due to Covid-19.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) has stated that they want to finish the remaining matches, while the custodians of the sport in the country, the South African Football Association, said football at all levels will only go ahead once it’s safe to do so.
“We will be dependent on Safa as the mother body of football in the country and the PSL, with the hope they will guide government,” the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa said during a press briefing on Monday, 4 May 2020.
“I have been in contact with both the Safa president Danny Jordaan and PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza and said to them I need their wise counsel as leaders in football on the reopening or softening of lockdown regulations with our risk adjusted strategy.
“We’ve convened meetings with both of them. Khoza and the Kaizer Chiefs chairperson, Kaizer Motaung, informed me that they are having a board of governors meeting on Thursday and they will come up with suggestions.”
However, golf courses around the country may soon be opened after stakeholders such as GolfRSA petitioned Mthethwa for the sport to return professionally without spectators and leisurely with strict physical distancing restrictions.
GolfRSA said in their letter to the minister that about 18 000 people could lose their jobs if golf clubs will remain closed.
“There are others who have come to us and pleaded their case and golf is one of them,” Mthethwa said.
“They motivated strongly that the nature of their sport is not a contact sport and in terms of the regulations – the metres between people – they fit in. It would be easier for them to adhere to [physical distancing]. We are looking into that.”