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Ken Borland

Hypocrisy angers me as great summer of sport being threatened

Posted on January 10, 2022 by Ken

What should have been a great summer of cricket, golf and rugby in South Africa is being threatened by the Omicron variant of Covid, which is an annoyance us sports lovers are getting used to, but what really angers me is the superior, hypocritical attitude of many overseas administrators and professionals.

The bio-secure bubbles that South African sporting bodies have put in place have proven to be exceptionally safe, a credit to the outstanding scientists and doctors we have in the medical sphere. But for many of those in the West, we are in Africa and therefore all the old stereotypes of being backward and unadvanced apply. It is an insulting and bigoted attitude.

Plus South African society is probably safer than many in Europe and America, where most people are ignoring preventative measures like masks, hand sanitising and social distancing. In America, there has also been a sizeable section of the population who have refused to get vaccinated.

It was the United Kingdom who began all the trouble by rushing to implement travel bans before they had even received all the scientific information about Omicron. The fact that the boorish Boris Johnson and his ill-informed medical advisors, who have grossly mishandled Britain’s Covid response over the last couple of years, are setting the tone for the global response is infuriating. We have someone who has presided over a country that now has more than 50 000 cases a day declaring South Africa, with 11 500 cases a day, a pariah.

And it’s not just those three major sports that have been affected: The U21 Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup was set to be held in Potchefstroom, the first time the sport would have staged a world cup in Africa, but that has been called off, and the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships, to be held this weekend in Pretoria, have also been deferred indefinitely.

The United Rugby Championship and the Sunshine Tour golf organisation have already seen their December events grossly disrupted by the Omicron panic, while Cricket South Africa will be hoping against hopes that the Indian tour, which is worth $100 million to the financially-strained organisation, will go ahead as scheduled.

The problem for all local sports bodies is that overseas competitors will now start using Covid fears as an excuse not to fulfil their commitments. India’s cricket players, safe in the knowledge that no-one in world cricket dares to ruffle the feathers of the BCCI, will do whatever they want, and we can only hope captain Virat Kohli’s love of Test cricket and desire to win a series in South Africa sways the day.

As we have seen in previous waves of Covid, things will happen quickly as the number of cases rises exponentially. But will overseas sportsmen be safer back home, where this variant almost certainly originated, or in a bio-bubble in South Africa?

Will the travel bans be lifted now that there is compelling evidence that Omicron did not originate in Southern Africa but was merely detected here first? One day the identities of the overseas diplomats who brought it into Botswana at the beginning of November will be revealed. The fact that the Munster rugby team had 14 positive cases by the start of this week, having been in a bubble since their arrival in South Africa, suggests they probably arrived with Covid, possibly catching it on the plane coming over, and have now been spreading it amongst themselves.

Of course it will always be the African countries that are at fault in the eyes of many of our Western visitors.

Cardiff rugby player Matthew Morgan ranted on social media about being dragged to South Africa in the middle of a pandemic and called the whole situation a “shambles”. Instead of being so privileged, perhaps he should be reading more of what leading scientists are saying.

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