President Ramaphosa this week spoke of there being no science to ban travel from South Africa, but Mr President where is the science in determining that 2000 can attend a live sporting event asks Mark Keohane.
There has to be some kind of solution to getting fans back into outside stadiums. The game’s biggest sporting teams in South Africa are financially bleeding to death with the continued absence of paying supporters at matches.
President Ramaphosa, in rightly attacking the decision of the United Kingdom and United States to ban all travel from South Africa and Southern Africa, questioned where the science was in the decision-making.
The first response on the President’s Twitter feed was from an individual who reminded him of some of his and the Covid committee’s own decisions.
‘Yet you banned roast chicken’ was the statement to the President.
Indeed, where was the science in that and where has science been in so many decisions, especially when it comes to sport in this country?
For starters, and I asked this question in a recent column, why the number 2000 when allowing supporters back to the stadiums. Why 2000, when the stadium capacity could be 2000 or 90 000? Where is the science to this?
I asked that question several times on social media and there has never been a response.
Why still ban double vaccinated people from attending outside sporting events?
I’ve also said this repeatedly but where is the science that allows thousands of people to loiter in shopping malls, with the majority having a disregard for any form of social distancing and with most shops packed to capacity and people, shoulder to shoulder?
Where is the science in this decision- making?
The President was instant in his response to the UK and USA in the damage the decision was causing to South African and Southern Africa’s economy.
Equally, South Africa’s own sporting bosses, regardless of code, should have been as quick to defend their position and ask where the science is when it comes to every decision made about professional sport.
It is ridiculous that I can go to a park for a picnic, a park that in the course of the day takes thousands of people, but I can’t go to a soccer, rugby or cricket match, if I happen to be the 2001st person.
I could still understand if it was a percentages game and, for example, letting spectators back involved 25 percent of ground capacity so that all Covid protocols in social distancing are adhered to.
Even in the relatively quiet period between September and November, when Covid infections were at an all-time low in South Africa and vaccinations were at their highest, nothing changed with regards to sporting events and spectator attendance.
The professional game commercially is on its knees Mr President, and these professional sports are the lifeblood to so many things that extend beyond those players on the field.
Mr President, you questioned where the science was with the UK and USA banning travel from this country, but where is the science in decisions that mean people don’t have work because of all the limitations when it comes to crowd attendance at sporting events?
This column is supposed to be a statement but in essence it is just a series of questions, of which there has never been any answers from the leadership in this country.
An article on sportstravelmagazine.com, published on the 3rd December, headlined: ‘New variant won’t slow down big game attendance.’
It referred to the state of Michigan as the hottest spot for Covid 19 in the USA this week, leading the country in cases per 100 000, and with only 54 percent of the state’s population fully vaccinated.
However, a fortnight ago, 111 000 fans squeezed into Michigan Stadium to watch the hosts Wolverines beat Ohio State in College football. There were seven big college matches across the country and 611 000 fans attended these matches.
In the United Kingdom, where the new variant is also on the rise, every sporting event continues with capacity crowds.
Why can one country open its sports stadiums to capacity crowds but South Africa, as one example, can’t?
Why was there not a limit to people attending political rallies in South Africa, as recently as two months ago, but 2000 remains the golden number for sport?
Then again, why was the selling of roast chickens ever banned during lockdown?
To quote President Ramaphosa’s ‘where is the science?’ is to ask him exactly the same question in this regard: ‘where is the science?’