The spread of a new variant of Covid-19 in the African nation has raised doubts over India’s upcoming tour to South Africa however, the Ministry of International relations and Cooperation of the host nation has given full assurance to the Indian government and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) regarding the safety of Indian players.
The Ministry has said that the touring side would be provided the best “bio-secure environment” to ensure the safety of players from the fast-spreading Omicron variant of Covid-19
Significantly, the Omicron variant, which was reportedly first detected in South Africa, has spread to many parts of the world with several nations now suspending flights to and from the country.
Meanwhile, the India ‘A’ team is currently in Bloemfontein and playing the second unofficial Test against South Africa.
Issuing a statement, the ministry said: “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. The Indian ‘A’ Team is based in Bloemfontein and will start the second match of the tour today, 29 November 2021. The last match will commence 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 Supersport Park on 26 December 2021 and the third match at Newlands on 3 January 2022. Whilst in South Africa the team will also play three One Day International games (ODIs) and four T20 matches, which will all be played at Newlands and Paarl,” it added.
The statement further promised of the best “bio-secure environment” to all the teams.
“South Africa will take all precautions necessary to ensure the health and safety of the Indian teams. ‘A’ full Bio-secure environment will be established around both the South African and Indian ‘A’ Teams as well as the two National Teams,” it said.
Significantly, the India senior team is scheduled to tour South Africa following the completion of the ongoing home series against New Zealand.
India is scheduled to play a three-Test series, as many ODIs and four T20Is during the tour, which will conclude on January 26.
Moreover, the ministry thanked the BCCI for continuing the India A tour.
“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,” it said.
“The South African Government has expressed its appreciation to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for allowing the tour to continue and for not letting travel restrictions negatively impact on international sports,” it added.
Earlier, while reacting on the possibility of a spike in pandemic, Cricket South Africa (CSA) had said that they are monitoring the situation in different parts of their country and will keep the BCCI updated about the developments.