Australia have postponed their Test tour of South Africa in March due to health concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s cricket board announced on Tuesday.
South Africa is battling a second wave of COVID-19 and a new variant of the virus, with Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley saying travelling to the country posed an “unacceptable” risk to the touring party.
With the tour not going ahead, it means New Zealand have qualified for the World Test Championship final scheduled for Lord’s later this summer.
Today we informed Cricket South Africa that we believe we have no choice but to postpone the forthcoming Qantas Tour of South Africa due to the coronavirus pandemic. Full statement 👇 pic.twitter.com/mYjqNpkYjp
Hockley said in a statement: “Following extensive due diligence with medical experts, it has become clear that traveling from Australia to South Africa at this current time poses an unacceptable level of health and safety risk to our players, support staff and the community.
“We acknowledge the significant amount of work by CSA in planning for the tour, during which we made it clear that CA was prepared to take on additional cost and effort to make the series happen.
“This decision has not been made lightly and we are extremely disappointed, especially given the importance of continuing international cricket at this time, our valued relationship with CSA, and our aspirations to compete in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.
“However, we have been consistent since the start of the pandemic that the health and safety of our people is always our number one priority and unfortunately despite best efforts to agree a biosecurity plan, the risks are simply too great at this time.
“As difficult and disappointing a decision as this is, especially for Justin, Tim and the team, we have a duty of care to our people and their health and safety can’t be compromised.
“We look forward to playing the series against CSA at a date to be confirmed in due course and we send CSA and the people of South Africa our very best wishes for a successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and a return to normality soon.”
Joe Connellan, the interim CEO of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, said: “While disappointing for both playing groups and cricket lovers all over the world, this is a prudent decision considering the prevalence and virulence of the Covid-19 strain in South Africa.
“The Australian players were ready for the contest with South Africa, especially to support South African cricket at this time with the added challenge of making the final of the ICC Test Championship.
“But this is the right call given the COVID data coming out of South Africa. It’s a decision based on the advice of the medical and health experts and that’s why the ACA supports it.
“The ACA offers its assistance to CA in exploring new options with Cricket South Africa for this series to be rescheduled.”
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