South African government assures Team India of best “bio-secure environment”
India’s tour of South Africa next month is in jeopardy following the new COVID variant ‘Omicron’ outbreak. Meanwhile, the South African government has promised the best “bio-secure environment” for the Indians.
India is scheduled to tour South Africa for a complete trip across formats. While the team is expected to leave on December 8/9, the opening Test gets underway from December 17 in Johannesburg. However, the outbreak of the new COVID variant ‘Omicron’ has jeopardised the tour. With the nation being put on the red list of the travel zones, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is awaiting the final instruction from the Indian government before proceeding with the tour.
The Omicron variant has supposedly been discovered in the African continent first, fast spreading to the rest of the world. Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has put it in the Variant of Concern category, making travel to the Southern hemisphere of the continent risky. Nonetheless, the India A team is currently touring the nation and playing some unofficial Test matches in Bloemfontein, where cases are not registered yet.
In the meantime, the South African International Relations and Cooperation Department (SAIRCD) released a statement, assuring the Indians of the best bio-secure environment. “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,” the statement read, reports IANS.
While the Netherlands senior team was also touring South Africa at this point, it decided to call off the tour following the opening One-Day International (ODI). Meanwhile, SAIRCD and the SA government acclaimed and appreciated India’s decision to show solidarity by allowing India A to continue with its trip.
“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 concluded.