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Sports committee welcomes cancellation of Comrades Marathon

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The Select Committee on Education, Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture has welcomed the decision to cancel the 2020 edition of the Comrades Marathon, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Committee Chairperson, Elleck Nchabeleng, said given the latest figures of positive cases in the country, and that KwaZulu-Natal is among the four provinces recording the highest positive cases, the right decision was taken.

“The committee welcomes the cancellation and believes it is in the interest of participants at heart. Any possible interventions and steps should be taken to ensure that the virus spread is contained. The urge to continue with the season among many sporting codes is understandable, but that should not be at the expense of the athletes,” Nchabeleng said.

The Comrades Marathon is run annually in June in KwaZulu-Natal. The race had initially been postponed to September due to the lockdown. However the race has since been cancelled.

Long, arduous decision to make

Making the announcement on the cancellation of the Comrades Marathon on Thursday, Athletics South Africa (ASA) President, Aleck Skhosana said that cancelling what would have been the 95th edition of the Comrades Marathon was a “long and arduous decision to make.”

“With the race’s rich history, its powerful nation-building attributes and contribution towards social cohesion, as well as its immense economic impact, it would have been premature to rush into an outright cancellation sooner. However, we believe we have jointly arrived at the correct decision to protect the health and safety of all concerned as well as the lives of our fellow South Africans,” Skhosana said.

Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Board, Chairperson, Cheryl Winn said they had hoped to postpone the race to a date not later than end of September (owing to climatic conditions), but with the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of abating and anticipated to peak in the coming months, there is no telling what is yet to come.

“As CMA, it is incumbent upon us to prioritise the health, safety and well-being of our athletes, volunteers and stakeholders and therefore lamentably we will not be staging this year’s edition of the country’s leading road running event.

“It is with profound sadness and regret that the CMA Board, in conjunction with ASA and KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA), had to make this decision. We do so with the knowledge that it will come as a great disappointment to thousands of Comrades runners, who together with us at CMA, have been holding out hope that the race would somehow proceed,” Winn said.

Disappointment

KZN Athletics Administrator Jay Reddy urged athletes to not succumb to despair, disappointment, and acceptance that they are victims of this pandemic.

“Let us rather celebrate that as athletes and other role players, we are sacrificing one of our major races in the knowledge that we are serving the interests of humanity. As KZNA we stand united in our endeavour to overcome the devastating consequences of this disease.”

“We call upon all our members and associates to engage in strategies to address the broader issues of the environment and the pressing needs of our people in the true spirit of the Comrades. We urge our athletes to continue to observe the COVID-19 regulations, engage in activity responsibly, and take every precaution to prevent the spread of the virus,” Reddy said.

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