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  • Mosibodi Whitehead

Don't cancel sports events. 'Make vaccination mandatory' says SASCOC Boss Barry Hendricks

SASCOC Boss Barry Hendricks has called on government to make vaccination mandatory for all those wishing to attend public gatherings of any sort, especially sports events. The president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee was speaking in response to what has been described as mass hysteria following the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant in the country (known as Omicron) which has led to the cancellation of sporting events around the country over the last 72 hours.


But Hendricks has warned that the already ailing South African sports economy can ill-afford another round of cancellations and has instead pleaded with government to take a tougher stance on vaccinations for those wishing to attend any mass gatherings whatsoever. "Reducing the number of participants in public events is not the most effective and sustainable measure to deal with COVID in our sector. It is killing sport as we know it," he said through a statement.


SASCOC President Barry Hendricks believes the cancellation of sports events is not the solution to stopping the spread of Covid19. He is calling on the government to make vaccination mandatory for all those wishing to attend mass gatherings and sports events. Photo Credit: SASCOC Media.

"We, the sport people, were the first to make it mandatory for fans to be fully vaccinated to be allowed to attend sporting events or return into the stadiums. This is a measure we need to keep for our ailing industry to survive. We are already implementing this and would like to call on cabinet to make vaccination mandatory for anyone wishing to attend public events and in particular sporting events," Hendricks explained.


It seems that the president of the Republic holds a similar view. Last night Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the nation would remain on level 1 of the lockdown meaning that public gatherings are restricted to 750 people indoors and 2,000 people outdoors. He instead demanded that countries such as Britain lift their 'unjustified' travel restrictions, which would not only allow South Africans to compete abroad but also allow their nationals to travel to SA for sports competitions.


Mass participation road running events are increasingly demanding that participants be vaccinated. Organisers of the 2022 Dis-Chem Half Marathon for example, have restricted certain race pack collection venues to vaccinated runners. Photo credit: Dis-Chem Half Marathon.

"We will continue to be guided by the World Health Organisation on international travel which continues to advise against the closure of international borders," said Ramaphosa during last night's address.


Hendricks agrees, arguing that surest way to keep the sports industry going is to hasten the rollout of the national vaccination drive. "Reducing the number of participants in public events is not the most effective and sustainable measure to deal with COVID in our sector. It is killing sport as we know it. Mandatory vaccinations and frequent testing, together with the other standard protocols is the only sustainable way forward," he concluded.

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