The Netherlands’ men’s ODI series against South Africa could be cut short because of concerns over the spread of a new form of Covid-19 variant in the country. If it happens, the pandemic will have impacted the fourth tour to South Africa in less than a year. The B.1.1.529 variant, discovered on Tuesday, spreads quicker than previous variants and has more mutations, raising concerns that it could compromise vaccination efficacy. The Dutch appeared to have opted to return home after meeting with the CSA on Friday, despite the fact that their team was in Centurion for the first of three scheduled ODIs.

As a result of the new variant’s detection, several nations have increased restrictions for tourists from southern Africa, and the players will almost certainly have to spend time in quarantine when they return to the Netherlands. Several members of the team play and live in the United Kingdom, whose government has banned non-regional residents from entering the nation and imposed a self-funded hotel quarantine if they arrive after 4 a.m. on Sunday.

The Dutch may find it difficult to travel due to the widespread adoption of the new model, which has resulted in flight cancellations. They might have to stay in South Africa for the remainder of the series, which was supposed to end on Wednesday. The situation was left in the balance after a CSA release on Friday afternoon: “Following revised information, both boards can confirm that the visiting team will not be able to fly out of South Africa over the weekend. The KNCB [Koninklijke Nederlandse Cricket Bond] is weighing all of its alternatives, with the physical and mental well of its players taking precedence. While all flight possibilities are being investigated, a decision on the series’ continuance will be made in the next 24 to 48 hours.”

India A is also in South Africa, where they will play three four-day matches in Bloemfontein, although their visit does not appear to be in jeopardy. The South Africans will be hoping that this remains the case because India’s senior team is scheduled to travel in December and January, bringing millions of dollars into the cash-strapped CSA’s coffers.

Following positive coronavirus tests at their hotel in December, England’s men’s white-ball series in South Africa was canceled, leaving half of the six matches unplayed, while Australia postponed a Test series scheduled for March and April due to pandemic fears in February. The Australian women’s team followed likewise, canceling a white-ball tour 10 days before the first match was scheduled to be played in March.