Stung by multiple travel bans imposed on South Africa in the wake of the detection of the new Covid-19 variant – Omicron, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) on Monday issued a statement appreciating the visiting Indian A cricket side.
Planned visits to South Africa are being cancelled left right and centre much to the detriment of the local tourism sector.
Kruger National Park has already reported cancellations of bookings.
Countries that have imposed travel restrictions on South Africa and other Southern African countries include the United Kingdom, United States, European Union members, Canada, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Seychelles, Brazil, and Guatemala.
Last week International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor described the travel bans as “rushed”.
Feeling unfairly isolated, Pandor’s department was clearly relieved by the Indians’ tour of South Africa.
“The South African government wishes to welcome the Indian ‘A’ Cricket Team that is currently in South Africa to play three unofficial test matches against the South African ‘A’ Team,” said Dirco in a statement.
“India’s decision to show solidarity by choosing to continue with the tour of the Indian ‘A” Team stands in contrast with a number of countries who have decided to close their borders and to restrict travel from Southern African after South Africa announced the detection of the new Omicron variant.
“The South African government has expressed its appreciation to the Board of Control for Cricket in India for allowing the tour to continue and for not letting travel restrictions negatively impact on international sports.”
The Indian ‘A’ Team is based in Bloemfontein and will start the second match of the tour today, Monday 29 November 2021.
The last match will begin on 6 December 2021.
The Indian National Cricket Team is also scheduled to visit South Africa and will play three games during their tour.
The first will be played at the Wanderers and will start on 17 December, to be followed by the second match at SupersportPark on 26 December 2021 and the third match at Newlands on 3 January 2022.
While in South Africa the team will also play three One Day International games and four T20 matches, which will all be played at Newlands and Paarl.
“South Africa will take all precautions necessary to ensure the health and safety of the Indian teams,” said Dirco.
“A full Bio-secure environment will be established around both the South African and Indian ‘A’ Teams as well as the two National Teams.”
The tour of the Indian National Team marks the 30th anniversary of South Africa’s readmission to international cricket.
In 1991, India became the first country to host a South African Cricket Team after South Africa was banned from international cricket in 1970 by the International Cricket Council, following a resolution taken against the then South African government’s apartheid policy.
The anniversary will be celebrated by a commemorative event that will take place on 2 January 2022 in Cape Town.
“This event will also serve to highlight the strong ties between South Africa and India, which is once again demonstrated by the tour of the two Indian teams,” said Dirco.