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Sporting economy in South Africa needs a vaccine jab in the arm to survive

Fans celebrate after Bafana Bafana beat Ethiopia at the FNB Stadium. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Fans celebrate after Bafana Bafana beat Ethiopia at the FNB Stadium. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Published Oct 13, 2021


Cape Town - Officially, the Cape Town Cycle Tour was not allowed to have any spectators at the world’s largest timed cycle race on Sunday.

Unofficially, it was the biggest party Cape Town had seen in almost 18 months. Capetonians came out in their droves and celebrated the opportunity to be part of an institution that has been running for 43 years.

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ALSO READ: Nolan Hoffman delivers perfect sprint to win Cape Town Cycle

And before I get crucified for not being sensitive to the impact of Covid-19 and the possible spread of the virus at large social gatherings, the route was 109km long and the “spectators” were all socially distanced along the race.

The infamous fickle Cape Town weather certainly played its part as it almost knew that the moment to show off had dawned.

With the race stretching through beautiful pockets along the city from its start near the V&A Waterfront through to Wynberg Hill, Smitswinkel, Chapman’s Peak, Ocean View, Masiphumelele, the scenic Camps Bay strip all the way back to Cape Town Stadium, the riders were enthusiastically cheered on by spectators that lined the streets.

ALSO READ: Vaccinated fans helped Bafana Bafana through moments of suffering, says Hugo Broos

I joined the “party” along the False Bay coastline on my morning walk from Muizenberg to Fish Hoek, and it was almost emotional to see families hauling out the picnic baskets and deck chairs to support the riders.

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For a few hours it seemed almost “normal” again with the event providing hope that everyday life can slowly start to function again. The fact that the Western Cape is showing encouraging signs of mass vaccination is a further step in the right direction.

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The SA government on Monday gave the green light for 2 000 vaccinated spectators to attend outdoor sports events and 750 indoors. The pilot project kick-started with Bafana Bafana’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia at FNB Stadium yesterday.

ALSO READ: WATCH: ’It’s like Christmas,’ says Bafana Bafana fan Joy ’MamaJoy’ Chauke on return to FNB Stadium

After watching sport on TV around the world played in front of rousing spectators for a while now, it does provide some form of hope that SA too will get there.

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Fans are the lifeblood of sport. Equally, sport is often a means to escape the humdrum of everyday life. If entry to stadiums requires certified vaccination status, then by all means use it as a political tool to get people vaccinated.

And the sporting economy desperately needs the jab of spectators returning to stadiums in order for the professional clubs, teams and federations to sustain their various development projects that impact massively on the youth.

Hopefully, the Cape Town Cycle Tour and Bafana’s World Cup qualifier will show that there is a way to plot the safe return of fans to stadiums.