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DA wants non-contact pro sports to resume under strict health measures

In a statement released on Tuesday, the party said that 'the call comes in light of the minister’s refusal to reopen the application period for athletes and artists to access the Department’s Arts and Sports Sector Relief Fund'.

Wayde van Niekerk. Picture: @WaydeDreamer/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - The financial insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak has had a devastating impact on athletes across South Africa.

Rugby, cricket and football leagues were forced to shut down in March when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nationwide lockdown. Along with the leagues shutting down, many community sports clubs and centres were also forced to close.

As the lockdown continues, these sports organisations run the risk of not being able to recover when live sports resume.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to reopen professional non-contact sports codes under strict hygiene and social distancing measures.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the party said that "the call comes in light of the minister’s refusal to reopen the application period for athletes and artists to access the Department’s Arts and Sports Sector Relief Fund."

Earlier this month, Mthethwa announced that 293 sporting applicants had received money from the department’s COVID-19 relief fund.

Government announced the R150 million relief fund for arts, culture and sport in late March. The announcement was in response to the suspension of sporting activities including the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and Super Rugby, along with all other sports.

The DA has since stated that the "reopening of non-contact sports codes like swimming, tennis, golf, athletics and others, without the presence of spectators, is possible if strict hygiene and COVID-19 protocols are in place."

Mthethwa has previously urged the likes of the PSL and the South African Football Association (Safa) to start speaking with one voice in an attempt to come up with a plan to resume the football season. The two bodies are set to meet on Tuesday with Safa insisting that football can only resume on level 1 of the lockdown while the PSL were trying to push for a return to action on level 3.

Super Rugby has also been suspended since mid-March with no word on how local competitions would resume.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.