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Wildeklawer tourney cancelled

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“This decision was taken in the best interests of all role-players, as well as in the spirit of accountability to our country as a whole.”

SEVERAL events planned for this time of the year, many of which provide a much-needed economic boost to the city, have been put on hold, including the Absa Wildeklawer schools tournament.

Absa Wildeklawer Sport 2020 spokesperson, Jannie van der Westhuizen, said yesterday that the executive committee was committed to the health and well-being of pupils and parents, as well as its responsibility towards the broader community.

“We also respect the delicate and uncertain situation that exists in our schools, and their responsibility to take decisions in the best interest of all involved. We also respect the measures that were put in place by the government to manage the situation,” Van der Westhuizen said.

He added that in the light of this, a decision had been taken to postpone the Absa Wildeklawer Sport 2020 tournament indefinitely.

“The possibility of hosting the event, possibly on a smaller scale, later in the year will be investigated.”

He confirmed, however, that the event would take place in 2021.

“This decision was taken in the best interests of all role-players, as well as in the spirit of accountability to our country as a whole.”

He added that the decision would inevitably lead to great disappointment and disruption, while it would also have enormous economic implications and other consequences.

“However, given the circumstances, and uncertainty about the future escalation of the virus, we trust that you will accept and respect our decision. Although we are still more than five weeks away from the event, we believe that a decision now is in the best interest of all,” he concluded.

The Absa Wildeklawer event was due to be held in Kimberley from April 24 to 27.

The schools rugby and netball tournament was hosted for the first time in 2009 at Paarl Gymnasium with 12 top-graded rugby schools and two invitation teams.

After 2009 the tournament was hosted in Pretoria, Kimberley (2011 and 2012), Maritzburg College (2013 and 2014) and 2015 at Diamantveld High School in Kimberley. Since then Kimberley has been the host of this prestigious tournament.

Over the years, the tournament has grown and has become the biggest schools rugby and netball tournament in South Africa if not in the world.

A total of 138 teams from 79 schools were expected to participate in this year’s event.

Traditionally guest houses are booked out months in advance for the duration of the tournament.

The CEO of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci), Sharon Steyn, said the cancellation of the Absa Wildeklawer event was a huge blow for Kimberley.

“This is very sad news. It is sad for the pupils, who have been looking forward to and have been training hard for the event, the school sporting calendar and the economy of Kimberley,” Steyn said.

“Everyone was geared up for what is one of the biggest schooling events to be held in the city. Guest houses and businesses, as well as schools, were prepared and ready. However, we have to hear and take seriously what is being said and this decision was taken in the best interests of the safety of everyone concerned.”

She added that it was hoped that the event would be held at a later date.

Meanwhile, all motorsport activity in the Northern Cape has also been postponed.

Brent Prins, president of the Northern Cape Motorsport Association, said yesterday that it was with great sadness that all motorsport activity in the Northern Cape had been postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, until the go-ahead was given by national and provincial government.

“The Northern Cape is known as the capital for extreme sport in South Africa and the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) will affect us extremely as our Easter weekend motorsports draw spectators and competitors from all over SA and beyond the borders,” Prins stated.

He further urged the public to watch the organisation’s social media platforms as the public will be updated with dates and the way forward.

Swimming South Africa also announced that all scheduled swimming events hosted by the organisation have been postponed with immediate effect until further notice.

Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, together with Kenilworth Racing, Gold Circle, the Racing Association, the National Horseracing Authority and The Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust have unanimously agreed that although racing will continue, there will be no public attendance on the course.

“From Tuesday, March 17 all race meetings will be closed to the public until further notice,” Phumelela Gaming and Leisure stated. “Only essential racing participants will be allowed access to racecourses on racedays. These include owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms, officials and staff deemed necessary to host a race meeting safely and successfully.”

Access points to racecourses will be limited, as will hospitality venues for participants allowed at racecourses on raceday in order to strictly comply with the guidelines and restrictions imposed.

The Kgalagadi Jazz Festival was also cancelled until next year. “This is a public health precautionary measure,” the organisers said yesterday. “This was a difficult yet entirely necessary decision and we are sure that you share in both our disappointment and understanding of why we had to postpone the event at such short notice.”

People who have already bought tickets were advised to claim a refund from Computicket outlets.

The Electoral Commission has also stated that it will urgently approach the Electoral Court to postpone all scheduled by-elections as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The decision follows the announcement by the president of the Republic of a national disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act (Act 57 of 2002) and the introduction of a range of measures to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The measures announced include urging people to limit physical contact and prohibiting gatherings of more than 100 people.”

The Electoral Commission pointed out that the election process involved relative close physical contact between election officials and voters including the exchange of ballot papers and inking of thumbs.

“At the end of the voting process, ballot papers must also be counted. Where an infected voter has handled a ballot, indications are that active viruses will last for at least 10 hours. This will be yet another opportunity for cross infection of officials conducting the counting process,” it said in a statement issued yesterday.

“Given heightened awareness and concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic there is also a real possibility that significant numbers of voters may stay away from voting stations in upcoming by-elections.This will result in low participation levels which will undermine the freeness and fairness of elections.”

This is expected to affect by-elections in Khai-Ma on March 18 as well as in the Dawid Kruiper Municipality on May 13.