With the doubts looming around India’s upcoming tour of South Africa due to the emergence of the new Covid-19 variant, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly has said that the tour remains on schedule and they’re keeping a close watch on the situation.
Notably, there has been concern on the spread of the new Covid-19 variant – Omicron – which was first reported in South Africa and has spread to many parts of the world with several nations now suspending flights to and from the country.
“The tour is on as things stand till now. We still have time to decide. The first Test is scheduled from December 17. We will ponder about it,” Ganguly told reporters on the sidelines of a promotional event.
“Players’ security and health has always been BCCI’s first priority, we will do everything possible for this. We will see what happens in the days to come,” he added.
After the completion of the ongoing home series against New Zealand in Mumbai, Team India is scheduled to fly to Johannesburg on December 8 or 9 on a chartered flight.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Ministry of International relations and Cooperation of South Africa had given full assurance to the Indian government and the BCCI regarding the safety of Indian players.
The Ministry had 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.
“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 said.
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 added.
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 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.