Top athletes such as Wayde van Niekerk had to fly to Europe to compete in events over the last few months, as local athletes were not allowed to utilise any facilities in South Africa. Picture: Tim Ireland/AP
Top athletes such as Wayde van Niekerk had to fly to Europe to compete in events over the last few months, as local athletes were not allowed to utilise any facilities in South Africa. Picture: Tim Ireland/AP

Athletics SA clawing its way back from the Covid-19 unknown

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Oct 16, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - At last! The sport of athletics has finally been given the go-ahead by Athletics South Africa to resume in Mzansi next month.

In a statement on Friday morning, the governing body announced that “training and controlled competition activity” will resume from November 1 following the Covid-19 lockdown.

Many top athletes, such as long jump star Ruswahl Samaai, have complained about the continued delay for athletics to be staged in this country, as well as for athletics to train.

Samaai, Wayde van Niekerk, Akani Simbine, Antonio Alkana and others had to fly to Europe to compete in events over the last few months, as local athletes were not allowed to utilise any facilities in South Africa.

Just on Tuesday, Samaai tweeted: “How is it possible that our Athletics stadiums/tracks is still closed when so many sporting codes in our country has resume with their training. Why is one of the most social distancing sports struggling to get access to training facilities?”

Athletics SA said in a statement on Friday: “For track and field, the maximum number of participants at a competition venue at any given time will also not exceed 500 (including athletes, technical officials, volunteers, medical team, media/broadcasting team (where relevant) and stadium workers.

At both running and track and field events, no spectators will be allowed. All rules and restrictions pertaining to the allowed events will be reviewed at the end of December 2020 in consultation with the Sports and Health Departments.

“During the period of 1 November to 31 December 2020, only licensed athletes will be allowed to compete in ASA accredited events and this includes temporary licensed athletes.

“Temporary licences will be issued at provincial level at least 48 hours before competition to prevent a large gathering seeking licences on race day.”

It is not yet clear when the first major event featuring the likes of Samaai and Van Niekerk, as well as possibly Caster Semenya, will be held.

Road races and recreational events such as park runs and trail running may also take place, but have been limited to distances of not more than 10km, with the maximum number of 500 athletes allowed per event.

ASA said that only athletes in possession of a licence will be allowed to begin training, and that access to these facilities are subject to Covid-19 regulations.

“We are also entering a new era as an athletics family in the country as we begin to claw our way back to an unknown future under a new order of sporting life,” said ASA president Aleck Skhosana.

“However, while we look at returning to partial activity under the new order of things, let us not forget that the priority is still to first save lives since the coronavirus is still very much with us.”

@ashfakmohamed

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