On 6 August 2020, the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, amended the directions regulating sport under the level three lockdown and, on 17 August 2020, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs issued regulations which, amongst other things, places South Africa at alert level 2 as of 00h01 on 18 August 2020. We outline below how sport will be regulated under alert level 2.

Professional and non-professional sports are permitted

Under alert level 3, only professional sports activities were permitted. This has now been changed, and both professional and non-professional sports matches, which are authorised by recognised sporting bodies, are permitted to resume subject to the following conditions, amongst others:

  • Only the required number of players, support staff, medical crew required for the sport match, journalists, radio crew, television crew, security personnel, emergency medical services, and the necessary employees employed by the owners of the relevant venue, are permitted to attend sport matches;
  • Spectators cannot attend sport matches; and
  • International sports events are not allowed.

International sporting events

“International sporting event” is defined in the amendment issued on 6 August 2020 as an “individual or team participation in an invitation, tour, league, training or championship outside the Republic in preparation for any minor, major, or mega international sport event”. The amended directions prohibit such events and provide that this prohibition extends to, amongst other things, training in preparation for events abroad and participation in leagues that involve teams outside of South Africa.

The directions also prohibit “any national or selected team to participate outside the Republic” and “individuals or athletes who intend to participate in sport abroad, except an individual or athlete employed by a team outside the Republic, who has an employment contract with a team outside the Republic”. The effect of this direction appears to be that national and provincial teams, as well as any other team selected to compete in an event abroad, are prohibited from training for or playing matches abroad. In addition, individuals are prohibited from training for events abroad, unless they are contracted to play for professional teams outside of South Africa. 

Contact sports matches

Before the amendment of 6 August 2020, contact sports matches were prohibited. This has now been changed and contact sports matches are permitted to resume subject to the following requirements, amongst others, in addition to the general requirements outlined above:

  • the relevant sports body or federation recognised in terms of the Recognition of Sport and Recreational Bodies Regulations must inform the minister of the resumption of training and matches and must, within 14 days of 6 August 2020, provide the minister with an operational plan, the names of the sporting venues that will be used, the numbers of players and officials involved, the number of people that have tested positive and negative for the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and the date of resumption of training and matches;
  • the relevant sports body must also keep a register, which must be archived for a period of not less than six months, of the following information of the relevant professional athletes, support staff, and officials: full names, residential addresses, contact details and contact details of persons residing with the person attending training or matches;
  • the relevant sports body must ensure that athletes and support staff are tested for COVID-19 before the resumption of training and matches; and
  • transportation of athletes must comply with the transport directions issued by the Minister of Transport.

New directions expected

The existing directions and regulations provide little guidance on how non-professional sports matches will be regulated under alert level 2, and it is hoped that a new set of directions, providing such guidance, will soon be promulgated.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.