Zim Football Return Further Delayed As Govt Okays ‘Low Risk’ Sports Return

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By Sports Reporter

LOCAL footballers will have to wait longer before resuming the popular sport after the government has only given the green light for 23 sporting disciplines classified as “low risk” to return under approved coronavirus protocols.

The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) last month submitted an application for the resumption of football activities in the country.

This was the second time the football mother body has sought authorisation to resume the sport, having previously applied for the resumption of football on December 21 last year, before it was rendered invalid by the Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021, which had been triggered by a surge in coronavirus cases.

After government eased lockdown measures due to a decrease in the number of new Covid-19 infections, there was hope that football would be allowed to resume.

However, in a statement, the Sports and Recreation Commission advised that they had been informed by Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry that only sports codes deemed to be low risk had been cleared to get back on the field of play.

“Pursuant to Cabinet approval and the publication of Statutory Instrument 61 of 2021 this Wednesday, 3rd March, 2021, as read with Statutory Instrument 200 of 2020, the Sports and Recreation Commission (‘SRC’) advises that it has now been formally notified by the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation (‘the Minister’) that the following National Sport Associations (‘NSAs’) may resume their activities as outlined in their previously approved Covid-19 protocols taking into account National and World Health Organisation guidelines,” said the SRC.

The sports codes that have been allowed to resume include cricket, horse racing, chess, shooting, golf, archery, aquatics, badminton, angling, athletics, cycling, equestrian, rowing, drafts, polo, polocrose, golf, shooting, tennis, motorsport, swimming triathlon, table tennis lawn bowls and woodball.

The SRC also announced the guidelines to be followed by sports associations when they resume activities.

“The NSAs listed above, have been advised contemporaneously by separate and direct email requiring that they acknowledge and accept the said correspondence and the health protocols and other conditions reiterated therein.

“If any of the above activities are played at a sports club, bars and changing rooms are to remain closed and any available restaurants authorised to operate are to only accept take-away orders.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, gyms shall remain closed,” the SRC said.

Although the low-risk sports were authorised to resume training, they will need to submit another application to the Sports Ministry through the SRC to stage competitions or travel for regional and international competitions.

“In respect of applications for competitions the following deadlines will apply: – 1. Local competitions- fourteen business days prior to the intended competition date. Regional, Continental and International competitions – thirty business days prior to the intended competition date.

“No competition in Zimbabwe or travel outside of Zimbabwe shall take place without the written authorisation of the Minister in consultation with the Minister of Health and Child Care.”

The SRC said they will monitor all sports facilities and centres for compliance and warned that sports codes which violate the health protocols and other stated conditions face suspension and prosecution.