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Next year’s British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa could be moved to the autumn.

South African rugby chief Jurie Roux says a later tour could be the by-product of an overhauled international calendar

The Lions are due to play three tests against the world champions in Cape Town and Johannesburg in late July and August of next year. 

Those dates will clash with the re-arranged Olympic Games in Tokyo.

"The development of the pandemic and its varying impact around the world has made for a fluid situation and we have had to be responsive in our planning," said Roux.

"That means we have looked at a number of contingencies around scheduling.

"We have those scenarios in place, but the main question now is when it will be safe for international travel and for mass gatherings.

"It would be a disappointment if a Lions series had to be played behind closed doors, but that is not a scenario for which we are currently planning."

As things stand, the tour is due to begin with a game against DHL Stormers on July 3 at Cape Town Stadium.

In March, Lions managing director Ben Calveley insisted a potential clash with the Olympics was not a problem, "There should not be any direct clashes with Lions matches and Olympic events given the time difference between South Africa and Tokyo," he told The Guardian, "So fans should not miss out on any action."

Despite Calveley's stance, a September start to the Lions tour is growing more likely.

Roux highlighted the importance of the tour from a South African perspective, "We can’t wait for the opportunity of the Lions tour, which comes around every 12 years, and commercially – as a joint venture goes – we have thrown away the textbook.

"There will be a sharing of revenue, logos, intellectual property and it will hold great commercial value.

"In a post-COVID-19 world, the benefits of the Lions tour will be extremely valuable and enable us to move forward successfully despite the fact we are not actually in such a bad spot [after reporting a profit of €449,000 for 2019]."

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British & Irish Lions Coronavirus Covid-19 Jurie Roux Lions South Africa Springboks

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