Dear friends and runners,
It’s been a while since you have heard from me and I hope everyone is keeping well and healthy.
Christmas is around the corner and I’m sure you are as ready as I am for some days of relaxation, peace and spending time with your loved ones.
We are enjoying summer here at the moment and Andrew, our daughter Ella and I did a trail run on the beautiful wine farm Groot Constantia today. We just loved finally being able to do an organized race again after all this time.
What a year 2021 has been…. Just as tourism in South Africa was picking up again and events like the Two Oceans Ultramarathon confirmed that they will take place next year, we got the news about the new Omicron variant with unprecedented mutations. This new variant received massive global coverage and the EU has decided to put South Africa, among five other Southern African countries, on the red list. This means that travelling to and from Southern Africa for the foreseeable future will be limited.
These travel restrictions were introduced despite The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advice which cautioned countries against hastily imposing travel restrictions linked to the new B.1.1.529 variant. The WHO advised countries to rather take a “risk-based and scientific approach”.
It seems currently that Europe is focused on the knowledge we already have about the new variant, how much worse it might be than previous variants and what the consequences for Europe might be. It is becoming clear that the EU’s strategy is to „play it safe and buy time“. The perception seems to be that the new variant is connected to the fourth wave that is starting here in South Africa at the moment and while there have been some worrying reports, there is no scientific evidence yet to indicate how serious the new variant might really be. In fact, in the last few days, South African scientists have reported they have only seen very mild symptoms in infections so far that were identified as Omicron variant.
From the perspective of South Africa, it is incredibly disappointing that as a country we are punished by a travel ban without enough scientific evidence being available. It’s only thanks to the excellent scientific abilities of South Africa’s medical experts that the new variant was identified. Most importantly, I believe over the last 2 years it’s become clear that travel bans simply are not effective in curbing the spread of the virus.
We would love to share the updated itinerary for the Two Oceans 2022 group with you at this stage, however in the current situation we need to wait for some more information and the travel bans hopefully being taken back in the coming weeks. We are so excited to finally host you in April 2022 and holding thumbs that this will finally happen again.
Please could I ask you for a little more patience and we will be in contact as soon as the situation has become more clear. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or Ed & Marco from Hardlopen in Zuid-Afrika anytime.