by HELGE SCHÜTZ
SPORTING events in Namibia have gone into lockdown following the coronavirus pandemic which has now also reached Namibia.
The chief administrator of the Namibia Sport Council, Freddy Mwiuya, yesterday announced that all national and international events had been called off with immediate effect.
“Following president Geingob’s announcement on Saturday to call off all large gatherings in Namibia, we have decided that all national and international sporting events will be suspended with immediate effect for a period of 30 days,” he said.
“This doesn’t mean that sportsmen and women should stop training. They can still do so on their own, but they should avoid large gatherings,” he added.
On Friday, the Confederation of African Football acting secretary general, Abdel Bah, announced that the next round of qualifying matches for the 2021 African Cup of Nations, which were scheduled to take place between 25 and 31 March, had been postponed due to the pandemic.
The Brave Warriors were due to play Mali away in Bamako on 27 March and at home in Windhoek four days later, but those matches have now been postponed.
Regarding the Chan tournament for local-based African players, which is scheduled to take place in Cameroon from 4 to 25 April, Bah said a delegation from the Caf medical committee was scheduled to visit Cameroon over the weekend, to assess all the preventative measures taken by the local organising committee, after which a decision on the fate of the match will be taken.
Caf, however, postponed the match commissioners workshop that was scheduled to take place on 19 and 20 March until further notice.
The Fifa Women u20 World Cup qualifiers which were due to start next weekend have also been postponed, as well as the Total Women Afcon qualifiers which were due to start on 8 April.
On Saturday, the Namibia Football Association called off its friendly match against an Erongo regional team in Swakopmund, a few hours after president Hage Geingob issued a ban of mass gatherings in Namibia.
On Friday, Cricket Namibia announced that the Dutch Cricket Board (KNCB) announced that the Dutch tour to Namibia, scheduled from 25 March to 1 April, had been cancelled.
The teams were due to play two One Day Internationals and four T20 matches at the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek.
“Following government advice to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, including the increasing travel restrictions between countries, the KNCB feels there was no other option but to cancel this tour,” Jaap Wals, chief executive of the KNCB said.
“Public and player health is of utmost importance and we are relying on public health professionals to help us navigate these difficult decisions. We would like to acknowledge the efforts by Cricket Namibia that has gone into planning the series and we are looking forward to future tours between the two nations,” he added.
Johan Muller, chief executive of Cricket Namibia, said they supported KNCB’s decision to cancel the tour, but hoped to reschedule it in future.
“In the light of the recent updates from especially European countries, regarding the rapid blowout of the coronavirus, Cricket Namibia understands and supports the decision taken by KNCB to cancel their travel to Namibia,” he said.
“The Namibian public and our sponsors were extremely excited to welcome a top-ranked cricket country, such as the Netherlands, on home soil… we believe that once the virus is under control, we can look to reschedule this tour,” he added.
The annual Namibian Newspaper Cup which was due to take place in Oshakati over the Easter weekend has also been postponed, according to the editor of The Namibian, Tangeni Amupadhi.
“President Geingob has made a nationwide call to suspend all large gatherings due to the coronavirus and The Namibian Newspaper Cup falls within that ambit as well. It was supposed to take place over the Easter weekend so that date is definitely off, but at this stage we don’t know what will happen beyond that,” he said.
“We will meet with our other stakeholders from Standard Bank, the NFA, Netball Namibia and the hosts, the Oshana regional council, this week to see if we can still stage it at a later date this year,” he added.
The German Private School in Windhoek (DHPS) was supposed to compete in the Sports Olympiad of German schools in southern Africa in Johannesburg next week, but on Friday the German School in Johannesburg cancelled the event.
Nampa, meanwhile, reported that the Independence Trophy of the Khomas Basketball Association (KBA) has also been postponed indefinitely.
“Due to this unfortunate Covid-19 outbreak, KBA decided to suspend all games until further notice. Health should come first in this case,” the KBA announced in a statement.
Also postponed is the AC Boxing Promotions Rising Stars of Africa Phase Two Boxing Tournament, which was scheduled to take place on 4 April at the NamPower Convention Centre.
The postponement was confirmed by the founder of AC Boxing Promotions, Immanuel Paulus, communicating with Nampa from the United States, to which he accompanied the stable’s Sakaria ‘Desert Storm’ Lukas, whose fight against Jessie Magdaleno in New York was also cancelled at the last minute due to Covid-19.