Fungi Kwaramba and Godknows Matarutse
THE government has with immediate effect banned all sporting events as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the global pandemic — coronavirus (Covid-19).
Although Zimbabwe is yet to report a confirmed case of the deadly virus which originated from Wuhan, China last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday announced a number of stringent measures aimed at ensuring the country remains coronavirus free.
This comes as neighbouring South Africa, which is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner, has so far recorded 61 positives cases of the disease.
“Government has decided to postpone, curtail or cancel public events, gatherings and activities. In that respect, government has postponed…international sporting fixtures until the threat of coronavirus recedes.
“Gatherings of more than 100 people, including those for purposes of worship and weddings stand suspended for the next 60 days after which the suspension will be reviewed,” Mnangagwa said in an address to the nation at State House yesterday.
The Castle Lager Premiership was expected to start anytime from now once a number of outstanding issues had been ironed out.
However, yesterday’s announcement by Mnangagwa means the 2020 season can only start after the 60-day suspension, which ends on May 15.
“We will obey the announcement made by His Excellency. It means there will be no football to talk about for the next 60 days unless there are any changes,” Premier Soccer League spokesperson Kudzai Bare told the Daily News yesterday.
Yesterday’s announcement means the Warriors and the various other football national teams will not be allowed to participate in any competitions.
“We respect the government’s position. We abide by the government directive,” Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela told the Daily News yesterday.
Caf yesterday also announced that the Total African Nations Championship (Chan) that were scheduled to start in
Cameroon next month have been postponed to a date to be announced.
Already, the Warriors back-to-back 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Group H qualifiers against Algeria set for this month-end had been postponed after Caf finally realised the dangers posed by the global pandemic.
On the cricket front, Zimbabwe had been forced to cancel the tour of England Cricket County sides Derbyshire and Durham.
The two teams were already in the country but their visit was cut short on Sunday after they were forced to return to England after the escalation of the outbreak in the United Kingdom.
Zimbabwe Cricket was also forced to cancel the incoming tour of Ireland which was scheduled for next month.
The Irish national team was set to play six limited overs matches here before the two respective unions agreed to call off the tour due to the travel restrictions now placed by most countries.
Globally, some of the biggest sporting events have already been cancelled.
All the major leagues in Europe like the English Premier League, Ligue 1, Serie A, Bundesliga and LaLiga are in lockdown until the first week of April.
Uefa has also cancelled the Euro 2020 finals which were supposed to have started in June until 2021.
In the United States, the Major Soccer League, National Basketball League and Major League Baseball have all suspended their seasons.
The 2020 Formula 1 season which was supposed to kick-off last Sunday was cancelled with no dates yet for the first three races.