The Rugby League European Federation board has confirmed the decision to postpone the 2020 Middle East Africa Championship, which was due to be held in South Africa in October 2020 and feature four nations.
Principal among the reasons was that some of the countries in the region have still not reached their Covid-19 peak, including the hosts, and the need to protect players and staff of the competing nations is paramount.
In addition, training time has inevitably been compromised because of sporting shutdowns together with understandable difficulties in finalising the commercial position, with the operations of sponsorship partners and government departments also suspended by the effects of coronavirus.
“The postponement of the Middle East Africa Championship is a great disappointment, but the present worldwide pandemic made the decision inevitable,” said Frans Erasmus, president of South Africa RL.
“South Africa expects the peak of our epidemic to be near the end of our winter in August or September and we understand the potential risk involved in running the tournament as a consequence. Planning for its rescheduling will start as soon as more certainty exists about the progress of the pandemic.”
Maurice Watkins, CBE, RLEF chair, added: “Making the decision now gives certainty for the rest of the year and concerted planning can start for 2021 when the event will be rescheduled. South Africa will be given the first option to host given the considerable efforts they had already undertaken.”