South African Govt plans to nationalise all sports, clubs and gyms

A new draft amendment bill by the South African Department of Sports, Arts and Culture is looking to bring all sports codes, clubs and fitness organisations under the direct regulatory control of the minister – which could mean bad news for South Africa’s participation in international events.
The bill, released by the department earlier in December, has been published for written inputs from the bodies affected.
According to the department, it seeks to amend the National Sport and Recreation Act to broadly “provide for the promotion and development of sport and recreation”.
This includes establishing a Sport Arbitration Tribunal to resolve disputes between sport or recreation bodies; regulate combat sport; regulate the fitness industry; provide for the procedure in bidding for and hosting of international sports and recreation events; provide for the delegation of powers; provide for offences and penalties, and to provide for matters connected with these.
Among the many proposed changes in the bill is the removal of the independence of sports bodies, which would now have to develop ways to promote their sports in consultation with the minister, as well as giving the minister power to step-in directly in any disputes within sports.
The department also wants to assume full control of all sports codes, with its oversight extending to “any national federation, agency, club or body, including a trust, professional league, or registered company of such a national federation, agency, club or body, involved in the administration of sport or recreation at local, provincial or national level.”
This would ostensibly include fitness groups like Virgin Active and Planet Fitness, which would have to register and be certified by the department.
The department would also be empowered to hand out penalties to organisations or aforementioned clubs if they do not comply with the prescriptions in the Act, including fines and up to two years in jail.
The draft amendment bill gives the minister a direct hand in practically everything to do with sports and fitness in the country, which could extend to selecting sports teams, or any other directive that falls in line with the department’s goal of ensuring “transformation in sport”.
The department will also have the final say on who qualifies for national colours in all sporting codes, and who gets to host or participate in any international competition.
A key amendment of the Act states very broadly: “The Minister may from time to time determine and publish policy objectives to be achieved by Sports and Recreation South Africa, the Sports Confederation and sports or recreation bodies.”
In its current form, the draft amendments will cause a lot of international backlash, Rapport said, particularly as organisations such as the Olympic Committee forbid government interference.

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