Golf

Published: Monday December 9, 2013 MYT 5:47:01 PM
Updated: Monday December 9, 2013 MYT 5:47:27 PM

South Africa matches postponed, golf moved for Mandela services

Soccer fans celebrate as South Africa play against Burkina Faso during the inaugural Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day at the soccer city stadium in Soweto, August 17 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Soccer fans celebrate as South Africa play against Burkina Faso during the inaugural Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day at the soccer city stadium in Soweto, August 17 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Weekend matches in the top three tiers of South African football have been postponed, while a European Tour golf event in Durban will start a day earlier as the country prepares for the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela.

The South African Football Association (SAFA) said they had taken the step due to the high number of stadia that are to be used for memorial services for Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95.

A huge memorial service will take place in Johannesburg on Tuesday before Sunday's state burial in Mandela's ancestral home of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

The decision to postpone matches is a belated one after a high-profile League Cup final was allowed to be played on Saturday night.

Two league games in the top-flight were also completed this weekend, as well as a full round of games in the second division.

"It has been decided that all Premier Division, National First Division (NFD) and NFD Qualification Competition fixtures scheduled up to and including December 15, 2013 are postponed," SAFA said in a statement on Monday.

The Premier football League confirmed the news, citing "logistical challenges" faced by clubs.

The European Tour's Nelson Mandela Championship at Durban's Mount Edgecombe Country Club will start a day earlier on Wednesday to ensure that all four rounds of the golf tournament are played by Saturday.

"In recognition of the national period of mourning for the passing of former President Mr Nelson Mandela, provision will be made for observing the day of the state funeral for Mr Mandela which will take place on Sunday, December 15," the European Tour said on their website.

"This is during the originally scheduled playing days (from Thursday, December 12 - Sunday, December 15), so the tournament will start a day early, and in that way, the four rounds can be completed by the scheduled close of the event."

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