Proposed amendments to the National Sport and Recreation Act could uproot the foundations of South African sport, according to SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) board member Kobus Marais.
With the sports department attempting to pass a bill, Marais alleged yesterday that “opportunistic” politicians are trying to take full control without considering the widespread damage it could cause.
Proposed amendments could result in government regulation of clubs and organisations in all sport codes, as well as the fitness industry, and would give the department of sport and recreation control over bids for international sport and recreation events.
Government also hopes to establish a sport arbitration tribunal, with potential punishments including fines and prison sentences up to two years.
“This is a major problem and it’s going to create huge challenges,” Marais said.
“Sport federations in this country have always managed themselves.”
The sport and recreation department pushed Sascoc into making changes to its constitution and governance practices this year, after an independent inquiry found the organisation’s executive to be “dysfunctional”.
By attempting to nationalise sport, Marais feels government is placing the country in danger of being suspended from multiple global bodies, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which does not allow government interference among its members.
Should the country be suspended by the IOC, it could result in a ban of all South African athletes at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“There is [already] over-regulation,” Marais claimed. “It will have a direct influence and it could have a very negative impact on sport in South Africa.”
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