British and Irish Lions’ South Africa tour in doubt over COVID concerns

London: The British and Irish Lions will discuss this month whether to visit South Africa as planned later in the year because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lions are scheduled to play eight matches in South Africa, including a three-Test series against the world champion Springboks, starting on July 3 in Cape Town.

The Lions are due to play eight matches in South Africa from July 3 after last playing in New Zealand in 2017.Credit:Getty

But the coronavirus, which has seen a new variant emerge from England and South Africa, has cast doubt on the trip.

According to a Reuters tally, South Africa has more than one million COVID-19 cases, the United Kingdom has more than 2.5 million and Ireland has more than 93,000.

"As you would expect, we are progressing with our plans based on the latest information available to us," Lions managing director Ben Calveley said.

"However, given the uncertainty that continues to be caused by the coronavirus pandemic both in South Africa, as well as the UK and Ireland, we are very aware of the need to make a timely decision on the best way forward.

"The Lions Board has had repeated meetings to discuss all scenarios available and is in constant dialogue. It will meet throughout January and into February, if required, to review all relevant information and data."


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