Government wants to make South Africa’s British and Irish Lions rugby tour a ‘protected event’

Trade and Industry minister Ebrahim Patel has gazetted a new directive which aims to have the 2021 British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour of South Africa designated a ‘protected event’.

Section 15A of the Merchandise Marks Act empowers the minister to declare a major sporting or other events to be a protected event.

According to Stellenbosch University’s Professor Owen Dean, the declaration of a protected event aims to prevent ambush marketing and pronounces violations of the provisions to be criminal offences.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup enjoyed the benefits of such protection and it was widely used by FIFA.

Ambush marketing takes place where a non-sponsor of a major event seeks to create the impression that it is a sponsor or seeks to benefit its own trademarks from the publicity attaching to the event.

In the directive, Patel said protected event status means that the event is in the public interest and that the organisers of the event will create opportunities for South African businesses, in particular those from the previously disadvantaged communities.

Patel said that the ‘protected event’ designation will be on the understanding that:

  • The procurement policy of the organisers shall comply with the public sector procurement principles such as procedural and substantive fairness, equity, transparency and competitiveness.
  • The procurement policy of the organisers shall apply constitutional procurement principles, the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition Codes of Good Practice for Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B -BBEE) when evaluating suppliers and administrative law principles of fair procedure.
  • The organisers must submit an impact assessment/report on the British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour on communities in South Africa to the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition at least six months and not more than 12 months after the termination of the “protected event” designation.
  • The date of termination of the “protected event” designation is 30 August 2021.

The directive is currently open for public comment and can be read in full below.

Interested persons may submit written comments on the proposed “protected event” status within 30 calendar days from the date of publication.


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Government wants to make South Africa’s British and Irish Lions rugby tour a ‘protected event’