B&I Lions: SA sports minister paints bleak picture
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The British and Irish Lions versus South Africa series seems more likely to take place in the United Kingdom, after South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa’s big admission.
The British and Irish Lions are set to take on the world champion Springboks in a three-Test series from July 3 to August 7.
However, with South Africa’s lockdown restrictions – in regard to their no spectators policy – the prospect of a tour in SA seems to be highly unlikely.
Thousands of British and Irish fans normally travel to the Southern Hemisphere for these tours that take place every four years.
To make the situation worse, South African media reported that Mthethwa indicated that allowing fans back into stadiums seems to be the last issue on the government’s to-do list.
South African fans have been banned from attending matches since March 2020.
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When asked about the spectators being allowed back into the stadiums during Cricket South Africa’s media briefing, Mthethwa said:
“I think it is early days now to talk about the opening of games and so on.”
He explained: “The level we are in at the moment quite clearly shows that sport, arts and culture are sectors that work with multitudes of people and most definitely they will be at the tail-end of the entire process of opening up sectors of the economy‚”
South Africa’s Sports Minister has certainly left the rugby fans with loads of uncertainty.
In contrast, reports out of Britain reveal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a ‘roadmap’ for lifting COVID-19 restrictions by June 21.
The Mirror reported that Johnson said crowds of 10 000 could be permitted in 40 000-plus capacity venues after May 17, with a view to all restrictions being lifted on June 21.
This leaves the staging of the series in the United Kingdom and Ireland as a more attractive option – albeit an unprecedented moment in the history of rugby’s greatest touring team.
Meanwhile, Australia has also offered to host the tour.
A final decision on the future of the 2021 tour is set to be made by the end of March.
Sources: Sports24, The Mirror and TimesLive