New COVID variant forces DP World Tour schedule change

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New season, new name... same old frustrations.

The new-look DP World Tour - formerly the European Tour - has announced significant changes to its 'African Swing' amid concerns about a new COVID variant stemming from the continent.

This week's Joburg Open will continue to go ahead as planned and will finish on Sunday as scheduled as a full co-sanctioned tournament between the DP World Tour and the Sunshine Tour.

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The South African Open Championship, to be played at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City from December 2-5, will also still be played as scheduled. However, it will go ahead as a solely Sunshine Tour event with a prize fund of $500 000.

After lengthy discussions, it has been decided that the Alfred Dunhill Championship, which was scheduled to be played at Leopard Creek Country Club from December 9-12, has been cancelled.

This is due to the adverse effect new travel restrictions will have on the field.

These measures follow the discovery of a new “very heavily mutated” COVID-19 variant in the southern parts of the African continent. The B.1.1.529 strain has caused significant concern, with some health experts labelling it the “worst [variant] we’ve seen so far”.

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In a bid to contain the spread, flights to England from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from midday on Friday, with all six countries will be added to the red list.

Anyone arriving in the UK after 4am on Saturday, meanwhile, will need to stay at a managed quarantine hotel.

More than a dozen players based in the UK and Ireland withdrew from the Joburg Open ahead of today's second round in a bid to get home before the restrictions come into effect.

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