Deputy President David Mabuza has urged sports fans and lovers of the arts to get the COVID-19 jab so that they can return to fill sports stadiums and events in the arts as spectators and audiences.

Mabuza was speaking during the KwaZulu Natal leg of the “Return to Play: It’s in Your Hands” vaccination social mobilisation campaign held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

The city-to-city mobilisation campaign has visited different provinces, in a bid to harness the influence and appeal of sporting and creative stars to encourage South Africans to vaccinate.

“We are convinced that the more of us who take the COVID-19 vaccines, the sooner we’ll begin to enjoy watching our sporting teams as spectators on these grand stands that are empty now. The sooner we’ll be able to enjoy live concerts, the sooner we’ll be able to enjoy our festivals and performances in theatres.

“The artists that we support and love so much will no longer have to struggle to survive due to loss of a guaranteed income as a result of restrictions of the risk adjusted lockdown,” he said.

The Deputy President highlighted that sports, arts and culture has been particularly hard hit by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iconic events such as the Durban July, Comrades Marathon and others have had to be cancelled due to the virus.

“The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, extends to all sporting codes, affecting sportsmen and women, artists, the creative sector, and those involved in the secondary aspects of the industry like events coordinators, promoters and sponsors.

“Athletes, sportsmen and women have had to compete in empty stadiums without the cheering support from their fans and supporters, who inspire them to perform to the best of their abilities and help forge social cohesion,” he said.

Deputy President Mabuza said that the impact on these sectors can be further mitigated by a mass uptake in vaccination.

“[T]here is no need to be anxious, doubtful and hesitant. These COVID-19 vaccines are our ticket back to normalcy. We have it in our power to change direction.

“Soon we want to come back at this iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium as spectators to attend soccer matches or to attend music concerts. It is possible to return to this stadium at maximum capacity and watch our favourite soccer matches…once the population or herd immunity is achieved, we will fully open the economy and ensure that peoples’ livelihoods are secured,” he said.

Mabuza said the country must now accelerate its vaccinations in order to reach the target of vaccinating at least 70% of the adult population by the end of the year.

Currently, at least 33% of the adult population has been vaccinated.

“We now should vaccinate about 358 000 people on a 7-day average to reach the set target. This is a milestone we have set for ourselves, which will prepare the country to save 20 000 lives that could be lost during the expected fourth wave infections.

“We have enough supply of vaccine doses for all categories of our adult population, and all we need is for you to choose to vaccinate. There is no reason to stay away, as vaccination days have been extended to ensure access,” he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

News Reporter