Field Hockey Canada requests travel exemption for team stranded in South Africa

Field Hockey Canada is asking for an exemption from the federal government to help bring its junior girls’ 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 Wednesday, 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 it to pass 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.

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