There has to be a way to match the will of having some form of spectators when the world champion Springboks host the British & Irish Lions in a three-Test series. And there is a solution.
It involves the Health Care Workers in South Africa.
They will all have been vaccinated by the 24th July, when the three-Test series starts. They work on the frontline, as it is, and inviting them to attend the three-Test series; one Test in Cape Town and two in Johannesburg, would be a reward and thank you to them for their tireless efforts. It will allow them a momentary escape.
It will also give the Springboks a stadium atmosphere of 25 000 patriotic South Africans dressed in green and gold.
As things stand right now there will be no spectators allowed to attend any of the touring Lions eight matches, five of which precede the much anticipated three-Test series.
The South African Rugby Union, in collaboration with the Lions, steadfastly believe the two champion teams will put on a broadcast rugby spectacle in the three-Test series, even if it a series played out to a global television audience.
Everything is being done behind the scenes to explore every possibility of getting some form of stadium audience to attend, so as to turn these Test matches into sporting occasions. These possibilities absolutely respect #Covid protocols, the business-like precautions that exist in relation to #Covid and all social distancing that is required, whether children are attending schools or people are visiting a shopping mall or socialising at a restaurant.
The ground capacities are such that having 20 000 or 25 000 people at a 90 000-seater at the FNB Stadium or 10 000 at Cape Town Stadium’s 50 000 would ensure social distancing. If the crowd attendance was restricted to those vaccinated health workers and even to the vaccinated plus 60s, who would have an option to also attend.
The immediate counter argument would be that any gathering would be categorised as a super spreader, but against the lay argument to that is how is the risk greater for a stadium attendance, vastly spread in pockets, to any restaurant experience in South Africa over the last six months.
Government has a responsibility to the tour to try and do everything possible to ensure some form of attendance. If the government can allow for shopping malls to operate without restriction every day, all day, with thousands coming and going, surely a plan can be made in a restricted environment, like a sports stadium, with every #Covid precaution and protocol adhered to?
If not, then why not?
Government can subsidize the match tickets for these vaccinated health workers to attend and those vaccinated plus 60s, who would pay for their own tickets, would then also undergo a stringent screening Test in the build-up to the Test.
Solutions in life can be found if everyone is prepared to take an approach of ‘let’s make it happen’. It is when so many are divided on an issue that the problem is magnified and the focus continues to be the problem.
The Lions in South Africa desperately needs some spectator presence. As a nation, let’s try and make that happen and make the series the most memorable in the game’s history because of how a solution was found to what appeared an insurmountable obstacle.
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