Cricket SA CEO Jacques Faul says no player will be forced to return to training when non-contact professional sport returns under lockdown level 3 this week.

Minister of sport Nathi Mthethwa confirmed on Saturday that non-contact sports such as golf‚ tennis‚ athletics and cricket can resume behind closed doors at level 3 starting from Monday.

Mthethwa clarified that contact sports such as football and rugby can resume fitness training but cannot play matches yet.

“I have had discussions with the SA Cricketers’ Association (Saca) and I would like to stress that no player‚ coach‚ support staff or administrator will be forced to return to training if they are uncomfortable with it at this stage‚” said Faul.

The minister’s regulations for the return to training and playing was a big boost for the sport, he said.

“We have been in regular contact with Sasa (the SA Sports Association) and the minister and they have been very supportive of the game in these difficult times.

“Our next step will be to draw up a protocol covering the return to training and playing and submit it to Sasa for approval.

“I will immediately be calling a meeting of our Covid steering committee on Monday to get this process under way. Both our national teams and our franchises will in due time be given the green light to return to training.”

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux welcomed the latest developments and said  rugby submitted a proposal to the department on how the issue of the safety of players and officials could be handled.

“This is the news sport has been waiting to hear as it allows us to begin to ramp up preparations for an eventual return to play. We submitted a comprehensive‚ staged return-to-play protocols document to the department five weeks ago and we are ready to begin medical screening of players immediately,” Roux said.

“We will seek further clarity from the department on the application of the guidelines as they apply to contact training. But this is an opportunity for our players to enhance their lockdown training regimes by increasing their fitness work for an eventual return to play.”

The SA Football Association (Safa) welcomed Mthethwa’s clarification on the feasibility of resumption for both non-contact and contact sports.

“We welcome the fact that athletes can start training under strict specific conditions. Furthermore‚ there are requirements for a thorough monitoring of all athletes to ensure full compliance, said Safa acting CEO Tebogo Motlanthe.

“It is also clear that contact sport such as football and rugby among others cannot resume competitively under alert level 3.” 

Motlanthe said Safa’s view is that the health of players is of paramount importance and there will be further engagements with the department and other sporting federations.