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Sports in South Africa will be shut down due to new coronavirus variant

CAPE TOWN, November 26 (Reuters) – South African sport had to be closed on Friday due to the discovery of a new coronavirus variant at risk.

Four rugby teams were scheduled to play South African opponents in the United Rugby Championship (URC) but Welsh clubs Cardiff and Scarlets said they wanted to leave as Britain prepares to impose travel restrictions at 1200 GMT Friday.

“Since the situation in South Africa has changed so quickly, we are now trying to get our employees back home as soon as possible,” Cardiff said on Twitter.

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“Concerned families and friends can rest assured that our focus is on ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees and keeping you informed of all developments.”

Scarlets said they too were trying to get out of here as soon as possible.

Officials told Reuters on Friday that URC games would be canceled, with an announcement expected later.

Cardiff was due to play the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday, while the Scarlets were due to play the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

There was not a word about the plans of the Irish club Munster, which will meet the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, or the Italian Zebre in Cape Town to face the Stormers.

They are the first clubs to arrive in South Africa since the pandemic began and the postponement of games will be a big blow to the newly started tournament with teams from South Africa, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

The first round of the Joburg Open continued at 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Friday after a thunderstorm on Thursday ended the game prematurely.

The second round started at 7am, but by then 15 British and Irish golfers had already retired.

The event is the first on the schedule of the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour.

On Friday, South Africa will host the Netherlands in the first of a three-game cricket series from One Day International.

“At this stage of our planning and preparation, we have not seen any developments relating to the impact of the new variant on the incoming national team,” Cricket South Africa told Reuters on Friday.

“Should this change, CSA will issue an opinion and advice on planned adjustments.”

South Africa will also host India next month, with this tour expected to be a huge boon for the Cricket South Africa coffers. India will take three tests in December and January, followed by a limited series of overs.

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Letter from Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Additional coverage from Nick Said; Editing by Peter Rutherford

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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