India tour to go ahead under "strictest Covid-19 guidelines": CSA
Johannesburg (AFP) – Cricket South Africa confirmed on Saturday India will play three Test matches on their tour which starts later this month but "under the strictest Covid-19 guidelines".
The CSA added the tour will be delayed by a week to allow for "effective logistical planning" following an outbreak of the coronavirus Omicron variant in the host country.
Omicron was first discovered in South Africa and has led to global panic, uncertainty and fresh travel curbs in the last few days, raising questions over the prospects for the tour.
India will also play three one-day internationals.
The tour will be shortened, with four Twenty20 internationals being postponed until later in the year.
The first Test was due to start in Johannesburg on December 17 but the series is now likely to start in Centurion on December 26, with further Tests expected to be played in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The CSA statement said a revised fixture list would be announced "in the next 48 hours."
The tour "will proceed with the revised dates and itinerary", Jay Shah, secretary for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), confirmed in a statement.
India's Test skipper Virat Kohli this week sought clarity on the series after conflicting media reports about Omicron.
Some players would need to quarantine ahead of the tour, he said. "Those kinds of things you want to seek clarity as soon as possible," Kohli added.
CSA said both teams would be confined to bio-secure environments.
"This tour will take place under the strictest Covid-19 guidelines.
"The allocation of match venues will still be in respect of the Bubble Safe Environment (BSEs) and therefore the decision on the allocations will take into account the need for safer playing environments.
"CSA has instituted these world-class standards and measures to ensure that all players, staff and officials are protected within this environment.
"CSA's main focus is to safeguard the cricket biosphere by managing strict entry standards and limited movement outside of its cordon."
The discovery of the Omicron variant led to numerous countries banning travel to and from South Africa –- but the Indian team will travel on a chartered flight and go straight into a bio-secure environment.
South Africa has praised India for its "solidarity" in not cancelling the tour.
© 2021 AFP