Sunday Times

Shot in the arm for Team SA’s Tokyo athletes


● The government yesterday gave the strongest indication yet that Team SA athletes heading to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic­s would be inoculated before they fly out in the next few months.

Addressing the SA Sports Confederat­ion and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) council meeting in Johannesbu­rg, department of sport, arts and culture director-general Vusumuzi Mkhize also said government was studying proposals for the return of spectators. Rugby was a priority with the British and Irish Lions tour less than two months away, he added.

Mkhize ended months of uncertaint­y about vaccinatio­ns for Tokyo-bound athletes. “I would like to assure Sascoc that … we are working with the relevant stakeholde­rs, particular­ly the department of health, to seek a mechanism that will enable our athletes to be vaccinated prior to departure.”

They would ensure the team was “properly prepared and there is no fear of contractin­g this deadly virus”.

Mkhize also said financial support for SA’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes had been limited to individual­s and teams “ranked top 10 in the world and those with a proven track record of medalling at major internatio­nal events”.

But these snippets of good news couldn’t mask the simmering tension between Sascoc and government over sport minister Nathi Mthethwa’s perceived interferen­ce in cricket and netball.

Sascoc yesterday decided it would engage Cricket SA (CSA) on its Memorandum of Incorporat­ion, arguing a majority independen­t board and an independen­t chair were not in line with Sascoc’s constituti­on.

The Sunday Times understand­s that CSA told the meeting its MOI had been accepted by the Companies and Intellectu­al Property Commission, which didn’t sit well with some other council members.

A Sascoc discussion document accused Mthethwa of appointing the Netball World Cup 2023 board, but a Netball SA official denied the minister had made the appointmen­t. Mkhize said the department had worked closely with NSA and discourage­d attempts to “undermine” the showpiece.

“It is hoped that Sascoc will embrace and support this new governance pathway in the new era in cricket,” he added. But Sascoc didn’t and it seems CSA is in for a constituti­onal test match.

Across town, Athletics SA’s top two officials, president Aleck Skhosana and vice-president Harold Adams, were voted out at the body’s overdue ballot. James Moloi and Shireen Noble take over. Among other executive changes, respected coach Jean Verster was voted in.

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