Canadian field hockey team travel plans blocked by COVID-19 rule change

POTCHEFSTROOM, SOUTH AFRICA – Field Hockey Canada is asking for a federal exemption to help bring its junior women’s team back from South Africa.

POTCHEFSTROOM, SOUTH AFRICA – Field Hockey Canada is asking for a federal exemption to help bring its junior women’s team back from South Africa.

The team is currently stranded in Potchefstroom, about 120 kilometers southwest of Johannesburg, due to changing travel restrictions linked to COVID-19.

A statement from Field Hockey Canada says athletes and staff have booked a flight out of Johannesburg on December 8, passing through Germany.

However, the national organizing body said the team would not be allowed to board the flight in South Africa as Canada now requires them to undergo a negative PCR test in a third country.

Field Hockey Canada said it has booked PCR tests at the German airport and organized subsequent connecting flights at scheduled testing times.

The organization says Lufthansa Airlines has told the consulate in Germany that it will not board any Canadians in South Africa because it does not follow the rules for onward travel.

Field Hockey Canada is asking the federal government to allow its group to transit through Germany and on their Canadian flights without further testing.

He said the athletes and staff will test in South Africa the day before departure and meet the requirements for arrival in Canada.

Canada’s junior women’s field hockey team was in South Africa for their age group’s World Cup.

The Junior World Cup was scheduled for December 5-17, but was canceled last Thursday. Due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, most commercial flights to and from South Africa have been suspended, leaving players and staff without immediate return home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 3, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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