A slow return to action for Western Cape Climbing

Now that the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture gave climbing the green light to return to training, planning is going full steam ahead for the African Championship in hopefully mid-December.

That is the message from Chris Naude, vice-president of Western Cape Climbing, a member of the Western Cape Provincial Sport Confederation that represents 10 clubs and approximately 220 climbers.

A decision about the venue for the African Championships has not been taken but it will either be Cape Town or Johannesburg. It was planned for Cape Town for earlier this year in March, but depending on whether sponsorship is obtained, it could move to Johannesburg.

Chris said they are not planning any other competitions at the moment. The selections for the African Champs were done in January already and while it was not ideal that it happened a year before the actual competition, they will stick to that selection process.

He was not aware of any smaller competitions that will be happening and says the word out is that nobody was keen to have competitions, as they just want to train and there was no necessity for competitions right now. So, at the moment the African Champs, which is one of the selection events for the Olympic Games, is the main focus.

Chris said what the minister said and what was gazetted was that climbing was acknowledged as a non-contact individual sport and as such professional climbers – which does not really apply to them as the sport is not professional – can go back to training. That is applicable to climbers who are training for national and international competitions.

We are very happy about that because we have anyway planned the postponed African Championship for mid-December. We won’t have spectators or anything and we would have only 20 competitors on any particular day. We can keep them separate, so we should not have any major problems with that.

At least those climbers can get back to training. Our national Federation together with various people in the Federations, gyms and climber representatives put together a comprehensive plan for government. It was a cooperative venture and a well-constructed plan on how to manage the whole process and that is how we got on to the list of ‘accepted’ sports.

For now, recreational climbers are awaiting an official decision about their return to the sport, but Chris says that while there was no official statement either way about recreational climbing some parks and mountains have opened up. Therefore, individuals and small groups of recreational climbers can now – with some restrictions – get onto the mountains and get active.

The protocols for climbing’s return as approved by government are all in place – things like numbers tracing, sanitising, a new online booking system, controlled transport to and from gyms, etc.

The Federation, however, will move forward cautiously and carefully. We are not pushing very hard to try and get people outdoors and we are not saying everybody has to get back. It is something we have to accept, and it will be a slow process, concluded Chris.

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