The Democratic Alliance (DA) called on Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa to reopen professional non-contact sports including swimming and golf under strict hygiene and social distancing measures.
DA MP Tsepo Mhlongo said in a statement: “The financial insecurity resultant from the Covid-19 lockdown has had a major impact on athletes across South Africa and the DA, therefore, calls on the minister to reopen professional non-contact sports codes under strict hygiene and social distancing measures.”
Mhlongo said the party’s call came in light of the minister’s refusal to reopen the application period for athletes and artists to access the department’s arts and sports sector relief fund.
“The application process was marred with challenges ranging from technical glitches, poor communications and an insufficient application period. This resulted in several athletes not being able to apply for funding,” he said.
The MP said many athletes were currently experiencing a challenging financial period as sports events across the globe were cancelled and they currently had no source of income.
“Athletes are understandably anxious to return to the competitive arena, but due to some of government’s unnecessarily strict lockdown regulations, they have very limited options to sustain themselves and their families.
“The DA is of the view that the reopening of non-contact sports codes like swimming, tennis, golf, athletics and others, without the presence of spectators, is possible if strict hygiene and Covid-19 protocols are in place.
“Many athletes were prevented from applying for relief assistance due to the department’s inefficiencies and have lost their last opportunity to access some sort of a lifeline. Since the department is refusing to give them a second chance to access financial assistance, the right thing to do is to reopen non-contact sports codes where possible,” he said.
Mhlongo said the DA believed that the reopening of non-contact sports would, not only be a welcome boost for the sports sector and the economy, but also lift the spirits of athletes and the public during the pandemic.