The British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa has been placed in doubt after managing director Ben Calveley revealed talks are being held over its viability.

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The coronavirus pandemic, which has seen new strains emerge from England and South Africa, has cast uncertainty over whether the tour can go ahead as planned.

The Lions are scheduled to depart on June 27 for an eight-match itinerary that culminates in a three-Test series against the Springboks.

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But Calveley understands the need to make a decision sooner rather than later with February set as the deadline.

“As you would expect, we are progressing with our plans based on the latest information available to us,” Calveley said.

“However, given the uncertainty that continues to be caused by the coronavirus pandemic both in South Africa, as well as the UK and Ireland, we are very aware of the need to make a timely decision on the best way forward.

”Not least this is so that we can provide clarity to supporters booked to travel to South Africa next summer, or those thinking of making the trip.

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“To date, the Lions board has had repeated meetings to discuss all scenarios available and is in constant dialogue.

“It will meet throughout January and into February, if required, to review all relevant information and data.”

Calveley said an update would be provided in “due course”.

He added: “In the meantime, we continue regular discussion with our partners in the UK, Ireland and South Africa, including the British High Commission in Pretoria, the Irish Embassy and various government departments, to ascertain as much information as possible on this fast-evolving, complex situation.”

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