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Australia pull out of South Africa Test tour because of coronavirus concerns

(The Southern African Times) – Australia have pulled out of their tour of South Africa in February and March because of coronavirus concerns.

The teams were due to play three Tests, subject to bio-secure protocols being agreed.

Cricket Australia said it had “no choice” because of the situation in South Africa, where a more contagious variant of the virus has been reported.

It means New Zealand have qualified for the inaugural World Test Championship final in England this summer.

“This decision has not been made lightly,” said Cricket Australia interim CEO Nick Hockley.

“It has become clear that travelling from Australia to South Africa at this current time poses an unacceptable level of health and safety risk to our players, support staff and the community.”

Director of cricket Graeme Smith said Cricket South Africa (CSA) was “extremely disappointed by the decision”.

He added: “To be informed about the decision at the 11th hour is frustrating.”

South Africa has been the worst-hit country in Africa, with more than 1.4 million coronavirus cases and 44,000 deaths.

England withdrew midway through their limited-overs tour of South Africa in December after a number of positive cases.

Australia had named a 19-man squad for the tour, but the schedule had not been confirmed.

CSA chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra said the safety protocols proposed were “unprecedented”, with two grounds and two hotels to be bio-secure.

South Africa hosted a two-Test home series against Sri Lanka in a bio-secure environment in December and January, and Pakistan’s women are currently touring the country.

Acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki said the cancellation had caused a “serious financial loss” and “will have a serious impact on the sustainability of the less wealthy cricket playing nations”.

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