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IMPLICATIONS OF COVID-19 ALERT LEVEL 3 TO THE PROFESSIONAL BOXING SECTOR AND OUTCOMES OF THE SPECIAL BOARD MEETING OF 28 MAY 2020

boxing gloves in ring wallpaper

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

31 MAY 2020

IMPLICATIONS OF COVID-19 ALERT LEVEL 3 TO THE PROFESSIONAL BOXING SECTOR AND OUTCOMES OF THE SPECIAL BOARD MEETING OF 28 MAY 2020

The Boxing fraternity,

Almost 74 days since declaration of State of National Disaster and 63 days since the national lockdown, South Africa is now cautiously taking yet another decisive step as we move from Covid-19 alert level 4 into level 3 with effect from 1 June 2020. For us in the boxing sector, the implication is that we are now heading for the third month without any sanctioned boxing activity in South Africa and to a very large extent across the world as well.

Comforting news is that so far, since the first corona virus case was reported in South Africa on 5 March 2020, there still remains no reported case of any of BSA personnel or licensee who have contracted this virus. There is also no known or reported case of any of BSA personnel or licensee who has been arrested or found in transgression of any of the state of national disaster regulations and lockdown restrictions.

1. BACKGROUND

Background to this statement is drawn from the following important developments:

  • The State President, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa’s statement of 24 May 2020 where he announced that, “… Cabinet has determined that the alert level for the whole country should be lowered from level 4 to level 3 with effect from 1 June 2020.”
  • The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture’s media briefing of 30 May 2020 where he announced that the department is currently finalising the new set of directives which will guide the sport sector in respect of implications to both contact and non-contact sport arising from alert level 3.
  • The Special Board of Boxing South Africa held on 28 May 2020 where the Board processed a number of decisions which will assist to bring certainty on specific aspects of BSA core functions affected by the currently lockdown situation.

2. RETURN TO TRAINING

  1. While it has been mentioned that consideration is under way for our sport of professional boxing to be allowed to return to training under level 3, we need to emphasize that ALL BOXING GYMS SHOULD STILL REMAIN CLOSED until compliance inspection of each gym is completed by BSA and written approval is received from the Minister.
  2. So far the likelihood for permission under level 3 is only in relation to training and definitely not for competition since boxing is part of contact sport. This means that boxing tournaments remain disallowed under level 3. The compliance inspection mentioned above is therefore purely in relation to training, training facilities and training activities.
  3. From Wednesday, 3 June 2020 BSA, through its own personnel, Provincial Managers and field workers will begin to conduct compliance inspection in all professional boxing gyms across the entire country. Guided by a detailed compliance checklist, the inspection will seek to establish each gym’s plans and capacity in implementing Covid-19 control plans that will mitigate the chances of any BSA licensee to contract this pandemic through training spaces, training facilities or training activities.
  4. Further information and activity plan on this subject is in the attached document titled, ‘ Getting Ready to Open Gyms and Resume Training: Draft 1 of June 2020”. What is however once more emphasised for now is that NO PROFESSIONAL BOXING GYM OR BSA LICENSEES SHOULD ARBITRARILY RESUME TRAINING IN GYMS before compliance inspection of each gym is completed by BSA and written approval is received from the Minister.

3. ISSUES FROM SPECIAL BOARD MEETING

As earlier indicated, on Thursday, 28 May 2020 the BSA held a virtual Special Board Meeting. In the main, the focus of this meeting was to make a collective reflection on the impact of Covid-19 to the professional boxing sector and process urgent decision that will assist to bring certainty to specific aspects of BSA’s business process. Key among the issues which the Board then resolved on are the following:

3.1 National Relief Funds

  1. The Board noted that on the 25 March 2020 the Minister for Sport, Arts and Culture, Hon. Nathi Mthethwa announced a national relief fund to soften the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the livelihoods of artists, athletes and technical personnel.
  2. The Minister indicated that the fund will seek to assist athletes who were confirmed to participate at events that have now been cancelled or postponed due to Covid-19, and whose income is generated solely through specific events. Against that background, only participants from those tournaments that had already been approved by Boxing South Africa qualified for this intervention.
  3. BSA pulled all stops to ensure that eligible licensees are assisted to apply for the national relief fund. While this process was not without its own challenges, the good news is that BSA subsequently received a report from the department that 55 applicants from the boxing sector have been approved and this far have already received their payments.
  4. There are also 12 other applicants ( 5 trainers and 7 boxers) who were approved but were allowed to appeal. Once more, BSA assisted the affected licensees to lodge their appeals. We are currently awaiting the outcomes of the appeals process.
  5. We thank everybody for their cooperation and patience throughout this administratively intensive and painstaking process. Most importantly, we thank the Minister for this intervention which has definitely gone a long way to cushion the blow for our affected licensees.

3.2 Provincial Relief Funds

  1. The Board noted that this far a number of provinces have issued invitation for practitioners in the sport, arts and culture sector to apply for provincial relief funds. The Board however also noted that the general limitation with provincial relief funds at the moment is the inclusion of a criterion that, ‘Evidence that athletes were confirmed to participate in events that have now been cancelled due to Covid-19’.
  2. This appears criterion is a repeat of what was part of national criteria and as a result, its unintended consequence is that all deserving BSA licensees who didn’t qualify for the national relief fund will once more automatically fail to qualify for the provincial relief fund.
  3. c) BSA has already began to engage all affected provinces with a view to negotiate a differentiated approach in dealing with applications from the professional boxing sector. BSA’s view is that the criteria for provincial relief funds should among others, noting aspects of, (1) lack of alternative income, (2) patterns of prior years’ income, (3) financial neediness and (4) equitable distribution for those who could NOT access the national relief fund.
  4. d) In the meantime, BSA encourages all licensees who didn’t receive assistance at national level to go ahead and apply for provincial relief funds. Most importantly, they must submit all the necessary supporting documents pending the outcome of BSA’s engagement with the respective provincial authorities.

3.3 BSA Core functions

a) Licensing

In light of the lockdown situation, licensees are unable to move around and complete their licensing application and renewal process. The Board therefore resolved that the current licenses of 2019/2020 be extended until further directives are issued by the Board with regard to the licensing process.

In the immediate it is worthy to note that BSA is working hard to fast-track completion of the online licensing system. Once completed this electronic system will be accessible even on mobile phones and it will go a long way to eliminate a lot of foot flow in the licensing process except only for medical assessments. Expectation is that the system will be ready in July 2020.

b) Ratings

In light of no sanctioned boxing activities since 15 March 2020, there is no movement in the ratings and boxers are therefore unable to fulfil their obligations in terms of championship and contractual obligations. The Board therefore resolved that the status quo with regard to ratings should remain intact as at the last ratings of March 2020.

c) Sanctioning

In light of no sanctioned boxing activities since 15 March 2020, no income has been forthcoming for licensees and the situation is becoming more and more dire. Over and above the national and provincial relief fund assistance, the BSA Board is currently exploring means for BSA to also intervene directly and assist licensees.

Management has been tasked to work out various scenarios notwithstanding the dire financial situation which BSA find itself in. A follow-up special board meeting will be convened specifically for this purpose before 5 June 2020. Further pronouncement will be made thereafter.

d) Training

Part of BSA’s responsibilities is to train its licensees, more especially the Ring Officials. In light of restrictions on movement and public gatherings, the approach to roll out training for licensees is currently being reviewed. Digital training manuals are currently being developed with a view to shift towards optimum utilization of online and virtual platforms to roll out training.

Immediate focus will be on Ring Officials and more details on this will be available in the beginning of July 2020. We therefore encourage BSA licensees to start familiarizing themselves with this new phenomenon of virtual platforms for social engagements and business process. Having applications on one’s phone, iPad or Laptop such as Skype, Zoom or MS Teams is definitely the new normal and the boxing sector shouldn’t be left behind.

e) Boxing Convention

In light of the global pandemic facing us and applicable restrictions to curb its spread public gatherings have currently been suspended. The implication is that the National Boxing Convention 2020 has to be postponed to the next financial year of 2021/2022. Of course, this too remains subjected to further directives by the National Cabinet on social restrictions.

Intra-sectoral engagements on what was going to be the business of Boxing Convention do however still remain relevant. These documents will be posted on the BSA website so that members can still have an opportunity to go through them, formulate their views and make inputs.

f) Boxing Awards

The Board has resolved that the South African Boxing Awards will proceed and in the immediate the call for nominations should be made before 5 June 2020. Part of the exciting features to look forward to regarding the Awards are, the amendments to the adjudication criteria under certain categories, inclusion of some few new categories as well introduction of some new members to the Boxing Awards Adjudication Panel.

BSA is mindful of the hard impact which our sector and society at large has endured so far. This is definitely not the best position to be in but unfortunately an inevitable one when faced with a global pandemic of this nature. Our most important priority for now should be to ensure that we protect ourselves at all time and brave this storm that’s currently facing.

As we transcend into alert level 3 and prepare for boxers to reunite with their trainers and return to gyms, we urge you all to proceed with caution. Let’s remain on high alert and heed all the national directives as issued from time to time by the national cabinet and appointed authorities. We might be a little dazed and against the ropes for now but we are surely not defeated. We will surely recover and bounce back even stronger than ever!

For any enquiries please feel free to contact the Director of Operations, Ms. Cindy Nkomo on directorops@boxingsa.co.za or on 066 471 4521

ISSUED BY BOXING SOUTH AFRICA

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