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1970: South Africa cricket tour called off

The Cricket Council has reversed a decision to allow South African cricketers to tour England this summer.

The move follows strong pressure from the Home Secretary, James Callaghan.

After a 90-minute meeting at Lord's Cricket Ground with other members of the council, its secretary SC Griffith said in a statement there had been a "formal request from Her Majesty's Government to withdraw the invitation to the South African touring team".

"With deep regret the council were of the opinion that they had no alternative but to accede to this request and they are informing the South African Cricket Association accordingly."

England will play five matches against a Rest of the World team instead.

English cricket's U-turn

Four days ago, English cricket's ruling body had given the green light for the tour which was due to begin next week.

It said this would be the last time white South African test cricket came to Britain.

During a meeting on Thursday at the Home Office, Mr Callaghan questioned the reasoning behind the invitation and warned of the consequences for the Commonwealth Games, due to take place in Edinburgh in July.

African and Asian countries which had threatened to boycott the Games if the tour went ahead have said they will now attend.

The news was welcomed by anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain, whose Stop The Seventy Tour campaign had threatened to disrupt any matches played during the tour.

He praised the Labour government for their actions. "I would hope," he said, "the Conservative Party will come out in support of the Labour Party in these circumstances."

South Africa's Minister of Sport, Frank Waring, was furious at the announcement.

"It amounts to bowing down to irresponsible elements that manifest a total disregard for sport and the rights of others," he said.

In Context
In 2001, secret government documents published under the 30-Year Rule revealed that Peter Hain - then a Minister for Europe in a Labour government - had been under surveillance in 1970.

Harold Wilson's government had even considered charging him with seditious conspiracy for threatening to disrupt the proposed cricket tour.

The apartheid system - which saw South Africa ousted from the British Commonwealth in 1961, excluded from sporting events and subjected to trade sanctions in the 1970s and 1980s - started to come apart in 1985.

That year, non-whites won limited constitutional rights and interracial marriage was permitted.

President P W Botha resigned in 1989 and his successor FW de Klerk repealed all apartheid laws by 1991 but only whites could vote and segregation continued.

A new constitution enfranchised all South Africans in 1993 and Nelson Mandela became the country's first black president in 1994.

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