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Coronavirus: A huge blow to sports in Africa

Kai Dambach
March 21, 2020

It's not just Asian and European sports that are taking a back seat in times like this. African sports events up and down the continent are getting cancelled too as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nigerian football player kicks the ball acrobatically in a 2018 match against Morocco - Nigeria
Image: Getty Images/AFP/F. Senna

It's tough to be a sports fan in the current situation.What would normally bring people together is now unable to do so. No big crowds are allowed anywhere, and that includes Africa. Here is a quick list of some of the important events that have been postponed in Africa.

Championship of African Nations

The Championship of African Nations (CHAN), has been delayed twice. The tournament was supposed to take place in Cameroon in January and February, before being pushed back to April. It has since been postponed again indefintely. Cameroon has 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19. While Cameroon has yet to impose restrictions on sporting events, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the governing body of African soccer, made the decision.

Cameroon football players on the field
The West African ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 caused major disruption to football Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Soriano

Soccer leagues, matches, summits suspended

It is not just the CHAN tournament that has closed its doors. The World Football Summit, which was supposed to take place in Durban, South Africa earlier this week, did not take place. World soccer governing body FIFA rescheduled its 70th Congress, which was going to occur in June 2020 in Addis Ababa. That meeting has been pushed back three months.

FIFA has recommended that all international matches be postponed until further notice. Qualifying matches for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) that were going to take place in March have been postponed. It is not clear when they will take place.

Several national soccer leagues across Africa have postponed matches. These include Algeria, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Sudan and Gabon. The CAF recommended that all competition stop during the outbreak.

Magufuli on the red carpet with a guest
Tanzania's President Magufuli was among the first African leaders to be caught on camera doing a footshake as the cornonavirus spread to the continentImage: Tanzania Presidential Office

Tanzania's Uhuru Torch Race

Tanzanian President John Magufuli called off the torch race due to the virus outbreak. Magufuli said the money that would have gone towards putting on the race "should now be directed to preparedness of the facilities for addressing possible coronavirus cases." The event takes place every year from a different location and draws a large crowd.

No Tennis in Morocco

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) cancelled all competitions for six weeks due to concerns about the virus. That means the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakesh will not take place in April as previously scheduled.

The shadow of a tennis player on the court
The Australian Open took place amid wildfires and record temperatures in January 2020Image: picture-alliance/Actionplus

Zimbabwe cricket

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared a national disaster over the pandemic and suspended all forms of cricket competition in the country. That is according to a tweet from Zimbabwe Cricket.

South African sport stops

Much of the top sports associations in South Africa which include the soccer association (Safa), Cricket South Africa (CSA), Athletics South Africa (ASA), Tennis South Africa (TSA), Boxing South Africa (BSA), Netball South Africa (NSA) and golf's Sunshine Tour have all come to a screeching halt. The Potchefstroom Open, part of the ATP Challengers Tour, was called off after the Round of 16.

Alfred Dunhill Championship - Day One Golf
African golf fans will have to wait a little longer before they see their players tee offImage: Getty Images/J. Kruger

South African golfer Victor Lange tested positive for the virus according to a statement from the PGA Tour (North American golf's top organization). He showed no symptoms and was expected to make a full recovery after he remains quarantined in his home in Johannesburg.

While it may be frustrating and boring to live without sports for the foreseeable future, please remember that there is more to life than just sport.