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Team to cycle for Palestine

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In line with the new theme of the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, a group of 90 cyclists have decided to take part in the event under the banner of ‘Team Palestine’. Organizers are calling on cyclists to don red attire for this weekend’s race, in a show of solidarity with the brave men and women who have battled the devastating blaze that has ripped through the South Peninsula.

The Palestinian supporters want to raise awareness for the newly established Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF SA), which aims to send doctors over to assist in the conflict-stricken country, as well bring young Palestinians over to South Africa for surgery. The NGO has branches in countries across the globe.

“We’ve only just started out now in South Africa. Where the cyclists come in is because the PCRF globally has a Team Palestine (participating in world events), we’ve decided to do the same in SA as well,” explained one of the organizers behind the initiative, Abdeyah Fredericks.

She noted that the idea to bring the PCRF to the country was by in large motivated by the support seen during last year’s historic mass march, held in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

And whilst the group is not actively collecting funds as yet, she said the opportunity would be used to bring light to the fact that the PCRF are now functional in South Africa.

“We have cyclists and we have runners that are basically standing ready to do fundraisers for this chapter, so that we can get funds in for equipment, to send doctors overseas, as well as bring kids in,” she explained.

This year’s edition of the world famous cycling event will feature a significantly shortened route f or riders, a result of an ongoing battle to contain a fire that has been burning since Sunday.

Upon discovering that the fire had affected parts of the usual route, Cycle Tour director, David Bellairs said organizers had considered hauling out alternate plans to ensure the event could still be held. However, because of the widespread nature of the fire, a Plan-B route across Ou Kaapse Weg was also canned.

After monitoring the situation with officials from the City of Cape Town and Western Cape government, a crisis meeting was called on Wednesday to determine a plan to move forward.

“It was almost becoming certain by Wednesday that we were not going to be able to host the event,” he explained.

Alternative plans were established however, and a new 47km circular route will take riders from the Civic Centre through the famous Blue Route, ending off in Green Point. The new route is roughly 60km shorter than normal. Sunday’s event will also carry the tagline “show you care, rise in solidarity”, urging people to don red and show support for those fighting, and those affected by the fire.

“It has become a solidarity ride for those people that have been affected by the fire across the South Peninsula and for the firefighters, the men and women that have been out there fighting this fire for so many days,” he noted.

“We want people to enjoy it. You’re going on a 47km route so you don’t really need to go that hard and fast. We’re asking people to embrace the spirit of solidarity.” VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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