JOHANNESBURG: No tickets will be sold to the general public for the forthcoming Test and One-day International series between South Africa and India because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced on Monday.

CSA said in a statement that a joint decision had been taken with the Board of Control for Cricket in India to bar spectators from the grounds in order to prevent any possible breaches of the bio-secure environment in which the matches will be played.

The first of three Tests starts in Centurion on Sunday. They will be followed by three One-day Internationals starting from Jan. 19.

The statement cited the increasing number of Covid-19 cases around the world and the current fourth wave of infections in South Africa for the decision.

“This decision was taken in order to avoid any breaches that could compromise the tour from a Covid-risk perspective and to also maintain a hazard-free bubble environment.”

The statement added that the decision was made in the best interest of the game as well as the health and safety of players and staff.

The statement did not mention whether there had been consultations with the South African government. Current regulations allow outdoor gatherings of 2000 people.

South Africa, where the highly mutated Omicron variant was first detected last month, is Africa’s worst-hit country according to official tallies of virus cases, with more than 3.3 million infections logged and more than 90,000 deaths.

CSA Acting chief executive Pholetsi Moseki said: “This decision was not taken lightly but was instead taken in the best interest of the game and in the interest of the health and safety of all patrons.”

CSA informed media outlets last week that limited access to the grounds will be granted to fully-vaccinated journalists.

The matches will be broadcast on both subscription and free-to-air television channels.

Earlier on Monday, CSA announced that a Mzansi Super League Twenty20 tournament, planned for February, had been cancelled due to increased travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament, originally planned as South Africa’s equivalent of the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash League, was also cancelled because of Covid last season after only two editions.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2021

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