Team India to stay in two hotels, player safety priority for us: Cricket South Africa Chief to NDTV

There are concerns about India’s tour of South Africa amid the detection of a new Covid variant called Omicron. In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Cricket South Africa (CSA) chairman Lawson Naidoo said the board is in constant contact with the BCCI and appreciates the measures taken by the Indian government, describing travel restrictions by other countries as an overreaction. Naidoo added that only 2000 spectators each match in the series will be allowed in the stadium after verification of the vaccination. He also provided details regarding the bio-safe environmental bubble, as well as CSA’s emergency plan, if things get out of control at any point.

Excerpts below:

The BCCI president said yesterday that the tour is on despite the new Covid variant. Have you received any formal or informal communication from BCCI?

We are in regular contact with the BCCI, and keep them informed of developments in South Africa.

If most peoples have issued travel restrictions, what would you say to the BCCI?

The WHO organization has made it clear that travel restrictions are an overreaction to the identification of a new variant of the Covid-19 virus. Travel restrictions have proven ineffective in limiting the spread of the virus. According to us, the Indian government has put in place appropriate measures to improve the spread of the virus by travelers entering India.

Did BCCI ask for a special request for the tour?

The BCCI did not request any special requirements – the tour would always be arranged based on strict Covid-19 protocols observed.

Would the schedule of the tour remain the same or would it now be limited to a few cities?

The tour schedule is planned on the basis that the first two test matches will be played in Johannesburg and Centurion (with players staying in the same hotels for these games). The third Test and all white ball games will be played in Cape Town and Paarl (with players staying at the same hotels again for both sets of games). This planning is done on the basis that the BSE “bubble” is moved only once, from Gauteng to Cape Town.

Speaking to NDTV, the South African doctor who first discovered the variant, revealed that it is not as dangerous as hyped and there is very little chance that anyone will end up in hospital. Will that be a big factor?

Studies on the variant are going on and more will be announced in the coming weeks, but for now the seriousness of the beach seems to be lower than previous variants. Our scientists are leading the world in this regard.

What about the security and precautionary measures and steps taken by the South African government to ensure that the journey continues smoothly?

As mentioned above, these steps have been taken from the beginning of the planning for the tour – the safety of all players, matches and team management are a priority for us.

What about the bio-safe bubble and the isolation period for the players?

Both teams will be in a bio-safe environment for the duration of the tour. South Africa has already hosted Sri Lanka and Pakistan this year, so we have experience in providing safe environments.

Would the fans be allowed in the stadium? Would they be required to have the vaccination done as RT-PCR?

In terms of current regulations, a maximum of 2,000 spectators will be allowed in stadiums – they will have to prove their vaccination status.

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Finally, if there is a situation in the middle of the row 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 charter flight, so no additional action will be required.

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