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Zimbabwe sport hit by coronavirus

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By Sports Reporter

The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA)‚ the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) headline the long list of major sporting bodies in Zimbabwe which have suspended activities with immediate effect to bring sports in the country to a total lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although Zimbabwe is yet to record any case of the novel COVID-19‚ President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday declared a national emergency during an address to the nation in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.

Covid-19 has reached over 200‚000 confirmed cases globally‚ with nearly 9 000 deaths.

ZIFA said the football association would adhere to the directive having already dissolved the ongoing training camps for the national Under-20 women’s team and the locally based Warriors who were preparing for the 2020 African Nations Championships (Chan) finals.

The Confederation of African Football confirmed that the 2020 African Nations Championships, set for Cameroon next month, had been postponed while the Young Mighty Warriors were scheduled to travel to Ethiopia next week for the Under-17 World Cup qualifiers.

“His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday (Tuesday) declared coronavirus (Covid-19) a national disaster and has outlined a number of measures to combat the scourge including temporary banning of gatherings exceeding 100 people,” ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said in a statement.

“ZIFA, as a law-abiding institution, will comply with government’s directive and the Executive Committee has resolved as follows: –

1. All football matches and gatherings are hereby suspended with immediate effect.

2. The African Nations Championships (Chan) camp will be dissolved on Wednesday 18 March 2020. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has also taken a decision to postpone the 2020 Cameron CHAN finals that had been set for April 4-25.

3. Under 20 Women camp will also be called off on Wednesday, 18 March 2020.

“Our wish was for both teams to stay in camp longer and prepare adequately for the upcoming fixtures but the Executive Committee has taken this position in the interest of the safety & health of all stakeholders. We urge everyone to stay safe by adhering to World Health Organisation guidelines,” Gwesela added.

The Premier Soccer League has confirmed that the start of the 2020 Castle Lager Premiership football season has been postponed following Government’s intervention as the country intensifies its fight against the threat posed by coronavirus.

In a statement, the League said: “Following the National Address by His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued on Tuesday 17 March 2020 the government has suspended all public events, gatherings and activities of more than 100 people for the next 60 days, the Premier Soccer League hereby announces the postponement of the start of 2020 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League until further notice.”

The local cricket governing body Zimbabwe Cricket also revealed that it has suspended all forms of cricket due to the coronavirus pandemic, after recently agreeing to postpone next month’s visit by the Ireland cricket team.

“Following the measures announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the wake of the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic that has been declared a national disaster, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has with immediate effect suspended all forms of cricket in the country,” Zimbabwe Cricket said in a statement.

“As the health and well-being of our players, staff, supporters and the entire cricket community are our highest priority at ZC, we remain confident that these measures, which include minimising physical contact with other people, will assist to contain the spread of this novel virus that is ravaging the world.”

ZC said their activities at first-class, provincial and junior and amateur cricket have been suspended indefinitely.

“This is an unprecedented situation, but ZC’s aim is to reschedule the postponed domestic competition fixtures for them to be played as soon as it is safe to do so. In this fast-moving environment, further updates will be provided when appropriate.”

The country’s biggest golf tournament, Zimbabwe Open was the first major casualty of the coronavirus outbreak after its sanctioning body, the Cape Town-based Sunshine Tour revealed that it was suspending all its activities.

The country was set to host its premier golf tournament at Royal Harare from April 2-5.

The Sunshine Tour issued a statement advising they would revise their calendar after April 20.

“The Sunshine Tour will be suspending all of its activities as of March 16,’’ the tour said.

“The Sunshine Tour will review its position on April 20 or as the situation demands.

“This decision was taken by the Sunshine Tour Board of Directors and Players Committee, and stands in unity with the International Federation of PGA Tours and world golf’s decision to suspend its activities.

Several competitions around the world have also been suspended with the most recent being the Uefa Euro and Copa America which have been pushed to next year while the Olympic Games scheduled to begin on 24 July are also in doubt as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.