South Africa eases COVID-19 crowd restrictions for World Cup game

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CHOFU, JAPAN - JULY 22: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Ronwen Williams controls the ball in the Men's First Round Group A match between Japan and South Africa during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 22, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Ronwen Williams controls the ball in the Men’s First Round Group A match between Japan and South Africa during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. / Getty Images

A maximum of 2,000 spectators can attend a World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Ethiopia in Johannesburg on Tuesday as the republic eases COVID-19 restrictions introduced last year.

“The government has approved that a limited number of spectators will be allowed back into the stadium,” a national football association statement said.

All sport in South Africa was canceled in March 2020 as the first wave of the coronavirus hit the most industrialized African nation. Play resumed five months later in empty stadiums.

The lack of spectators inflicted severe financial hardship on the three most popular sports, cricket, football and rugby.

South Africa has been the country hardest hit in Africa by the pandemic with 2.91 million official cases and 88,317 deaths by Sunday.

Long-time strugglers, the national team are enjoying a resurgence in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, leading more fancied Ghana by one point halfway through a six-round mini-league.

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