South Africa

‘Options on the table’ but no end in sight for SA’s flag ban

Rugby team

While the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) insists it is in the process of trying to rectify the issue, it remains unlikely that the South African flag will be flown during the Springboks’ quarter-final match next week at the Rugby World Cup.

Following an executive committee meeting last month, the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed that South Africa and Bermuda had missed a deadline to update legislation in line with the WADA code which came into force in 2021.

This meant the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) would officially lose its WADA privileges on 13 October.

The nation also faced multiple potential sanctions until SAIDS was reinstated. These included a ban which stopped South Africa from hosting major regional, continental and global championships, while the SA flag could not be flown at international sporting events.

As such, the national flag won’t be raised during the Springboks’ playoff matches at the Rugby World Cup, nor during most of the Proteas’ games at the Cricket World Cup which started in India this week, even if they win the finals of their respective tournaments.

‘Working tirelessly’

In response to the decision announced by WADA, sports minister Zizi Kodwa said government had been “working tirelessly to amend legislation”.

“The South African government process for promulgating legislation is thorough and comprehensive,” Kodwa said.

“Any legislation, including amendments, must meet the muster of the South African Constitution and cannot contradict or nullify any existing laws.”

On Thursday, DSAC spokesperson Litha Mpondwana said discussions were ongoing, but it remained unclear when new legislation would be approved or when the sanctions might be lifted.

“Government and SAIDS continue to deliberate with WADA. At this stage various options are on the table, and efforts to have the SAIDS Amendment Bill expedited continue,” Mpondwana said.

“There will be an update in due course, specifically talking on the next steps.”