The cancellation of the South Africa vs Netherlands ODI series due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus variant Omicron is the third major international event to impacted by a fresh wave of the pandemic.
On Saturday, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Koninklijke Nederlandse Cricket Bond (KNCB) mutually agreed to defer the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series which began on Friday. The first match at Centurion was washed out.
Earlier on Saturday, the ICC called off the Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 in Harare due to the introduction of travel restrictions from a number of African countries, including the host country Zimbabwe. South Africa is now on the red list of countries banning flights and travellers from Protealand.
On Friday, the international hockey federation (FIH) put the junior women's World Cup on hold. India were scheduled to fly to Johannesburg on Saturday.
The FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup South Africa 2021, initially planned in Potchefstroom from December 5 to 16 December, will not happen under these circumstances of the new variant of the virus lurking, the FIH said.
The Indian A cricket team is also in Bloemfontein, South Africa. They are scheduled to play a series of four-day matches against the South African A team. Till now the BCCI has not taken any decision on whether the team will return.
It may be recalled that India withdrew from the fifth and final Test match against England at Old Trafford, Manchester in September due to COVID scare. A few members of the Indian support staff contracted the virus and the players wanted to be safe ahead of the UAE leg of IPL 2021.
The decision to defer the South Africa vs Netherlands ODI series comes as a result of mounting anxiety and concern on the Dutch team around travel bans and restrictions on flights from South Africa.
Several countries around the world including the United Kingdom (UK), European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA) are banning flights from South Africa. These actions are as a result of Thursday’s announcement by the National Department of Health of South Africa of a new variant of the COVID-19 (Omicron) virus discovered in the country.
Cricket South Africa Acting CEO, Pholetsi Moseki said: “We are disappointed by the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in, but the comfort of all visiting teams must always be paramount. The mental well-being of players is one of CSA’s top priorities, and we respect our visitors’ position and point of view."
CSA and KNCB will get into discussions around possibly rescheduling the tour within this cycle of the ICC Future Tours Programme ending in 2023, said Moseki.
Chairman of the KNCB Jurgen Delfos said: “We are saddened by these circumstances, but are grateful to Cricket South Africa for their assistance and understanding of our team’s position.
"It must be made clear that the concerns are strictly over travel issues and how soon the team can get home and have nothing to do with the integrity of the Bio-Secure Environment (BSE) that CSA has successfully hosted. Our team has been pleased with every aspect of the organisation of the tour and have been well treated by our hosts.
The Netherlands team will remain in the BSE hotel until their return flights have been finalised, said a CSA statement.