The tour formally known as the European Tour was scheduled to kick off its 2021-22 season with three consecutive events in South Africa. The first round of the DP World Tour’s first event at the Joburg Open was hampered by inclement weather and eventually postponed by lightning.
Friday brought worse news.
Experts with the World Health Organization were meeting Friday to assess a COVID-19 variant in South Africa that has been rapidly spreading among young people and has already spawned numerous mutations, according to a story by USA TODAY.
The variant has been dubbed “omicron” and classified a “variant of concern,” the most worrying type by the WHO and one of the first indicators that it is worth consideration as an increased threat.
The Washington Post reports that global financial markets were already reacting, with the Dow Jones industrial average sinking more than 800 points after news of the discovery of a coronavirus variant in South Africa.
Several nations, including Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Japan, responded to news of the variant by moving Friday to restrict air travel from several southern African countries. The European Union, which is made up of 27 nations, is also recommending a ban on flights from southern African countries, despite WHO officials warning against rash decisions.
Later in the day, the United States announced it will restrict travel from South Africa, as well as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, according to a statement from senior officials from the Biden administration. The policy does not apply to American citizens and permanent residents.
Also Friday afternoon, the DP World Tour announced the Joburg Open was being shortened.
The Sunshine Tour, DP World Tour and City of Johannesburg have decided to reduce the Joburg Open to 54 holes to help non-South African resident players, caddies and tournament support staff return to their home countries.#JoburgOpen
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) November 26, 2021
The two events after the Joburg Open have already been dropped from the DP World Tour’s official website. The South African Open Championship, Dec. 2-5, which was co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour, will now just be a Sunshine Tour event. The Alfred Dunhill Championship, which was scheduled for Dec. 9-13, has been canceled altogether, due to, according to the DP World Tour, the adverse effect the travel restrictions will have on the field.
Also in the USA TODAY report: scientists have little information about the variant and its potential for danger right now, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 technical lead, on Thursday.
“What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations, and the concern is that when you have so many mutations it can have an impact on how the virus behaves,” said Van Kerkhove.
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