SA Rugby and Cricket South Africa have welcomed the decision for players to be able to return to training as part of revised lockdown regulations in the country.
Nathi Mthethwa, minister for sports, arts and culture, announced the changes at a media briefing on Saturday, with non-contact sports cleared to resume both training and playing.
As for contact sports, Mthethwa revealed while reporting on the department’s COVID-19 sector relief fund that they will be able to go back in a staggered, controlled manner.
All professional teams now have 14 days to submit proposals to explain how they will ensure the safety of players and officials.
“This is the news sport has been waiting to hear as it allows us to begin to ramp up preparations for an eventual return to play,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“We submitted a comprehensive, staged return-to-play protocols document to the department five weeks ago and we are ready to begin medical screening of players immediately.
“We will seek further clarity from the department on the application of the guidelines as they apply to contact training.
“But this is an opportunity for our players to enhance their lockdown training regimes by increasing their fitness work for an eventual return to play.”
South Africa’s cricketers can also now prepare to resume training again, though no individual will be forced to do so if they are not comfortable with the current situation.
The updated conditions only apply to the professional game, too.
“This is a big boost for the operational side of our cricket,” commented Cricket South Africa’s acting chief executive Jacques Faul.
He added: “I have already had discussions with the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) and I would like to stress that no player, coach, support staff or administrator will be forced to return to training if they are uncomfortable with it at this stage.”
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