Field Hockey Canada says it has received an exemption from the federal government to help bring its junior women’s team home from South Africa.
The team got stuck in Potchefstroom, about 120 kilometres southwest of Johannesburg, because of shifting COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The athletes and staff booked a flight out of Johannesburg on Dec. 8, transiting through Germany. But Field Hockey Canada said the team was being barred from boarding in South Africa because of Canada’s requirement that they have a negative PCR test in a third country.
The national organizing body now says on its website that “Transport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have agreed to grant a time-limited waiver for the third country PCR test for some flights from South Africa to facilitate the return of Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents.”
It says the exemption will require a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of the scheduled final departure flight to Canada issued by an accredited lab in South Africa.
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 Dec. 5-17, but the tournament cancelled last Thursday. Because of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, most commercial flights in and out of South Africa were suspended, leaving the players and staff without immediate travel home.