Updated: March 9, 2016


It has been left too late, according to government, to resolve an administrative blunder that has left the national university cross country team out in the cold.
This comes after the nation scrapped its anticipated campaign at the World Student Cross Country Championships in Cassino, Italy this weekend.
“The Ministry is aware of the withdrawal and has been asked to intervene,” said Esethu Hasane, spokesman for sports minister Fikile Mbalula.
“Regrettably, the request for intervention was submitted to the ministry much too late for any meaningful assistance to be made.”
An 11-member national squad was announced last month for the biennial showpiece.
University Sport SA’s (USSA) athletics affiliate, however, confirmed last week it would no longer be sending a squad to the event.
“Due to unfortunate circumstances we are forced to announce the cancellation of the tour to the FISU World Student Cross Country by team South Africa,” USSA Athletics told tertiary institutions in an email.
Attempts had apparently been made by the USSA office and USSA Athletics to “rescue the situation” but proof of payment for costs had allegedly not been received from the various institutions, and it was too late to acquire all the necessary visas and finalise travel arrangements.
The Sports Ministry said it had contacted umbrella student body USSA regarding the withdrawal, and the blame had been placed squarely on USSA Athletics.
“USSA has confirmed that they have done everything possible to enable the athletes to ¬†travel to the World Student Cross Country Championships,” Hasane said.
“However, the reported failure of USSA Athletics to comply with FISU and USSA requirements resulted in the withdrawal.”
South Africa, regular entrants at the event, have a rich history at the university off-road spectacle, having earned six medals at the last 10 editions of the event.
USSA Athletics did not respond to requests for comment.