Phased approach for pro sports to return - but minister mum on details

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa on Wednesday told a joint parliamentary portfolio committee about his department's plans for the return of professional sport.
Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa on Wednesday told a joint parliamentary portfolio committee about his department's plans for the return of professional sport.
Image: Trevor Samson

Sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa has confirmed that the government is considering a plan for a phased-in return of professional sports.

Mthethwa on Wednesday told a joint parliamentary portfolio committee of sports, arts and culture about the discussions on the plan. The phased-in approach will begin with non-contact sports.

“I have been engaged with the leadership of the sporting fraternity from different sporting codes over the last two weeks. We have developed, as the department, a framework of reopening sport, and that framework talks about reopening both non-contact and contact sport,” said Mthethwa.

“We have been able to escalate this to ourselves at the command council, where we explained clearly that this sort of sporting codes would be fair if it’s opened at this level, and this one at that level, and so on.”

However, the minister was not forthcoming about a possible timeframe for when the reopening will begin.

His presentation to the committee comes as the country is expecting to go to level 3 of the lockdown from June 1.

Already the department of basic education has announced that schools will reopen early next month - an indication that other sectors which see large numbers of people, like sports, will follow.

In other parts of the world, sport is starting to return after it was banned due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Already golf has made a return, while in Germany football returned but was played in empty stadiums.

In SA, golf is touted as the first non-contact sport that will make a return. 

TimesLIVE reported this week that the Premier Soccer League had identified the Sun City resort in the North West as a strong contender to house all teams in a single camp as part of a proposed plan to complete the 2019/2020 season in July. 

“As we speak now, we have made our submission in opening for non-contact sport ... last week to the command council,” said Mthethwa.

He said the department was on top of the situation but did not give further details on the plan, saying only that they were prepared to come back to update the committee on the matter.


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