New COVID Variant: Will Team India’s Tour Of South Africa Be Called Off?

New Delhi: The new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa has set off ripples of concern all over the world.

The B.1.1.529 variant, also found in Botswana and Hong Kong among travellers from South Africa, has a very high number of mutations and has been causing a steep hike in infections in South Africa.

The Odisha government has decided to impose restrictions on travellers from the three countries, while a number of countries have cancelled flights to South Africa. The new variant also triggered a massive crash in the Indian stock market on Friday.

The cricketing fraternity is concerned over Team India’s full-fledged tour of South Africa, scheduled to begin next month.

Within days of the ongoing Test series against New Zealand ending on December 7, the Indian squad is scheduled to fly to South Africa for three Test matches, three ODIs and three T20 Internationals. The tour will start with the opening Test in Johannesburg, from December 17.

The India A side is already in South Africa, playing an unofficial ‘Test’ series.

The World Health Organization is keeping a close watch on South Africa, and so is the Union Health ministry.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will take a call on the senior team’s tour depending on instructions from the Central government.

Since the outbreak of the global pandemic in March 2020, COVID-19 resulted in widespread disruption of cricket and other sport. South Africa’s tour of India in March 2020 ended abruptly, while a reciprocal tour was cancelled later that year.

Though the recent T20 World Cup was held in the UAE without spectators, crowds returned to stadiums for the T20Is and Tests against New Zealand.

But there could be another roadblock ahead.

OB Bureau

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