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Athletes’ lives come first – ASA

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Athletics South Africa say they will not take advantage of the dispensation allowing athletes to train while Covid-19 infections rise.

Picture: Hassan Ammar / AP Photo

CAPE TOWN – Athletics South Africa have sent the government a “thanks, but no thanks” letter in which they explain that they won’t take advantage of the dispensation allowing athletes to train while Covid-19 infections rise.

Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa recently announced the staggered reopening of non-contact sport and training facilities.

ASA said the risk of athletes being infected is real and there could be grave consequences.

“ASA has resolved that it will not be hosting any national activities and participate in international events until ASA deems it is safe to do so or until it is expertly advised by the Department of Sport that it is medically safe to host events for athletes at a national and international stage,” a statement said.

“ASA has taken comparison to the protocol models of World Athletics, other bodies and other countries, and we reached a decision that none of them addresses the current dire scenario faced by South African athletics.

“The ASA Board has decided that instead all efforts must be concentrated in making sure that not a single life of an athlete, coach, support teams, event staff, volunteers and all involved, is lost because of Covid-19. We value every life. And that, to ASA, comes first.”

But ASA will not stand in the way of athletes who wish to resume training, and had a word of advice for those in the Olympic squad.

“With regards to the athletes on the Olympic squad, due to the individual nature of athletics, the athletes … do not prepare for the Olympics from a central venue. Given that athletics is technical in its nature, athletes and their coaches and support teams will require access to municipal stadiums on an individual basis, where access is granted in terms of the bylaws of the local government.”

University athletes are probably best placed to resume training but universities have had to submit plans in which they explain how they will adhere to health protocols and are awaiting government approval. As a result, all track and field facilities at universities are still closed.

Many elite athletes are anxiously waiting for the ban to be lifted on international travel to reboot their Olympic preparations.

ASA will look to host events again next year.

African News Agency (ANA)