Cape Town — THE British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa will go ahead in July next year, defying fears that it would be halted by the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The eight-game tour kicks off on July 3 at the Cape Town Stadium with a fixture between the visitors and DHL Stormers.
It concludes on August 7 when the Springboks host British and Irish Lions at the Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, Gauteng.
Jurie Roux, Chief Executive Officer of South Africa Rugby, confirmed the tour dates have remained unchanged.
"The whole of South Africa is looking forward to welcoming the Lions," he told CAJ News Africa in Cape Town.
"We continue progressing our plans to provide our local supporters, as well as fans travelling from abroad, with a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Roux said.
This will be the British and Irish Lions' third tour since the game turned professional.
They won the 1997 tour while South Africa clinched the 2009 edition.
"On every occasion, the Springboks took the field as reigning Rugby World Cup champions and the 2021 tour is already shaping up to be one for the ages," Roux said.
Ben Calveley, British and Irish Lions Managing Director, lamented that COVID-19 pandemic had caused massive disruption to the sporting calendar but also confirmed the tour will proceed as initially arranged.
He was speaking from England.
"I am particularly pleased that we are able to provide some clarity for all those Lions supporters eager to travel to South Africa next summer," Calveley stated.
The British and Irish Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions since the first one in 1891.
The Springboks have an upper hand, winning 23 of the ties to the tourists' 17.
Six have been drawn.