Team India To Stay In Two Hotels, Players' Safety Priority For Us: Cricket South Africa Chief To NDTV
In an exclusive chat with NDTV, Cricket South Africa (CSA) chairman Lawson Naidoo has said that the board is in constant touch with the BCCI and appreciates the measures taken by the Indian government.
There are concerns over India's tour of South Africa amid the detection of a new Covid variant called Omicron. In an exclusive chat with NDTV, Cricket South Africa (CSA) chairman Lawson Naidoo has said that the board is in constant touch with the BCCI and appreciates the measures taken by the Indian government, terming travel restrictions by other countries as an over-reaction. Naidoo added that only 2000 spectators will be allowed in the stadium every game during the series after verification of them being vaccinated. He also gave details regarding the bio-secure environment bubble as well as CSA's emergency plan, if things do go out of control at any point.
The BCCI president said yesterday that the tour is on despite the new Covid variant. Have you had any formal or informal communication from BCCI?
We are in regular contact with the BCCI, keeping them abreast of development in South Africa.
When most nations have issued travel restrictions, what would you like to say to the BCCI?
The WHO organisation has made it clear that travel restrictions are an over-reaction to the identification of a new variant of the Covid-19 virus. Travel restrictions have proven ineffective in curbing the spread of the virus. In our view, the Indian government has implemented appropriate measures to ameliorate the spread of the virus by travellers entering India.
Has BCCI asked for any special requirement for the tour?
The BCCI has not requested any special requirements - the tour was always going to be arranged on the basis of strict Covid-19 protocols being observed.
Would the schedule of the tour remain the same or would it be restricted to few cities for now?
The tour schedule has been planned on the basis that the first two Test matches will be played in Johannesburg and Centurion (with players staying at the same hotels for these games). The third Test and all white ball games will be played in Cape Town and Paarl (with players once again staying at the same hotels for both sets of games). This planning has been done on the basis that the BSE "bubble" will only be moved once, from Gauteng to Cape Town.
Speaking to NDTV , the South African doctor who detected the variant first, disclosed that it's not as dangerous as hyped and there is very little chance of one ending up in hospital. Is that going to be a big factor?
Studies on the variant are continuing and more will be known in the coming weeks, but for now the severity of the strand appears to be lower than previous variants. Our scientists are leading the world in this regard.
What about the safety and precautions and steps taken by South Africa board to ensure the tour goes on smoothly?
As mentioned above, these steps have been taken from the very start of planning for the tour - the safety of all players, match officials and team management are a priority for us.
What about the bio secure bubble and the isolation period for the players?
Both teams will be in a bio-secure environment for the duration of the tour. South Africa has hosted Sri Lanka and Pakistan already this year so we have experience of providing secure environments.
Would the fans be allowed in the stadium? Would they be required to get the vaccination or RT-PCR done?
In terms of current regulations, up to 2,000 spectators will be permitted in stadiums - they will have to prove their vaccination status.
Finally, if there is a situation in the middle of the series where the tour could not be continued, what kind of arrangement are there for Indian players to fly back if there are restrictions?
The Indian team will be flying in and out of South Africa on a chartered plane so no additional measure will be required.