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Major S. African events cancelled due to COVID-19 (list updating)

As COVID-19 continues to cause panic and uncertainty throughout the world, public gatherings of over 100 have been banned by the South African government. Here’s a look at some major events either cancelled or postponed as the result of the pandemic.

From sporting events to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and the ZCC annual Moria pilgrimage, a number of major events across the country have been affected over growing concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak.

On Sunday (March 15) President Cyril Ramaphosa took extraordinary steps of ordering an end of all public gatherings in the hope of curbing the spread of the virus, with a number of confirmed infections currently sitting at 85. 

ZCC Easter pilgrimage

The Zion Christian Church (ZCC), one of the largest churches in Southern Africa with around 10 million total membership, has called off its annual Easter weekend pilgrimage in Moria, Polokwane. 

The church issued a statement asking members to put on hold “until further notice” plans to attend the planned April 10 to 12 pilgrimage, which attracts between 3 and 5 million people on average every year. 

The church said it did not want to put its members’ lives at the risk of contracting the virus.

It is understood that Bishop Lekganyane took the decision on March 13, after meeting with government delegation led by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, but decided not to go public about it until church structures were informed.

The announcement comes after Limpopo recorded its first case of COVID-19. The 28-year-old doctor who travelled to France, Spain and Netherlands, is currently in self-quarantine.

Absa Premiership

Premier Soccer League has suspended all football matches for this week while awaiting a decision on a way forward for the remaining games of the league, as well as the Nedbank Cup.

Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman Dr Irvin Khoza on Monday afternoon announced that all of this week’s scheduled Absa Premiership, GladAfrica Championship and MultiChoice Diski Challenge fixtures have been suspended.

A comprehensive plan will be communicated with members of the public following consultation with the league’s Board of Governors (BoG), the clubs and sponsors and other important stakeholders. 

Some of the affected games include the league’s clash between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, which was scheduled to take place today, March 17, and the remaining others this coming weekend.

Khoza said the decision was informed by the guidelines issued by the President as part of a national strategy to fight the spread of the virus.

“As the custodians of the professional league, we have seen it fit to protect not just our players, coaches, fans and other match officials but the entire members of the public in our country,” he said.

As footballs fans await further update following the GoB meeting on Thursday, PSL said it will refund fans who have already bought tickets for this week’s suspended Absa Premiership matches. 

A number of sporting events around the world have also been put on ice, including the English Premier League, LaLiga, and the upcoming 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Old Mutual Athletics Club Road Race

Sun International announced that all outside events scheduled to take place at Windmill Casino in Bloemfontein between now and May 1, 2020 have been postponed until further notice. 

These include the Old Mutual Race Day and Jazz on the Lawn on March  28 and 29 respectively. 

“Windmill will work with promoters, and organisers to reschedule these events when the period of the ban is known,” the 

All of Sun International’s South African hotels and casinos, including Windmill, Sun City resort in Rustenburg and Time Square in Pretoria will remain open for business. While many conferencing venues will continue to operate as usual, only events and meetings not exceeding 100 people will continue to take place, the company said in a statement.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival 

The 2020 edition of the annual CPIJF has been postponed for the foreseeable future, organisers announced at the weekend on Twitter.

“This was a difficult yet entirely necessary decision, and we’re sure you share in both our disappointment and understanding of why we had to postpone the event at such short notice,” read a tweet from the organisers.

The announcement comes just a week after the internationally acclaimed South African jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim pulled out citing concerns over the rising number of coronavirus infections around the world.

“There is still too much uncertainty, and we are not prepared to jeopardise the health of you, our loyal Festinos, our local and international artists, and our fellow South Africans. Please refer to our website for questions regarding the refund of your tickets,” further read the statement.

Cricket South Africa

Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced it will immediately terminate all forms of cricket in the country, for the next 60 days, over growing COVID-19 concerns, namely:

  • First-class cricket
  • List A cricket (Momentum Cup)
  • All semi-professional and provincial cricket
  • All Junior and Amateur cricket

Dr Jacques Faul, CSA acting chief executive said: “We at CSA take this pronouncement by the President and the cabinet very seriously, and we will most certainly use our leverage to ensure that we minimise the impact of the virus in our spaces.  Consequently, and during this time of absolute caution and surveillance, we would like to call upon all our members and affiliates to desist from taking part in any cricket related gatherings and other transversal events.”

Two Oceans Marathon

All Two Oceans Marathon events set for April 8 to 11 have been cancelled due the global spread of the coronavirus.

“The health and safety of the competitors, staff, sponsors and the global community are paramount and an event of this scale poses far too great a risk to continue. Guided by this priority and global best practice, the TOM NPC has made the difficult decision to cancel the world’s most beautiful ultramarathon for 2020,” explained race director, Debra Barnes.

Further information will be made available in due course, she added.

Macufe Cultural Festival

Free State premier, Sisi Ntombela, announced on Friday (March 20) the canning of Macufe 2020 in October and Flower Festival, saying that the budget will be used to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandermic in the province.

“We took a decision that all big activities are going to be cancelled. I thought this thing is going to take us two to three months and I realised that it can take us the whole year,” Ntombela said.

The FS government has also cancelled all national holiday events, including the June 16 commemoration and Women’s Month celebrations in August.

Castle Lite Unlocks 

The 2020 Castle Lite Unlocks, initially set for June 12 at the TicketPro Dome in Johannesburg, has also been postponed.

“We share the disappointment of our fans during this time of uncertainty, however, as a brand that cares for its consumers, we cannot ignore the growing concerns for health and safety as a result of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 in South Africa and around the world,” said Castle Lite brand director Silke Bucker.

 He added that the brand is deliberating and will communicate further details around new date by the end of March “upon consultation with our headline act, Cardi B, and all other stakeholders”.

*For the latest South African product launch news and updates, make sure to visit NOWinSA daily

Tankiso Komane
Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.
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