KIGALI. — Rwanda’s decision to suspend all participation in international games played outside the country for now, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, could lead the way for a number of African countries to take a similar stance.

Sports Associations in Rwanda were told yesterday they have to put on hold any participation by the country’s athletes in international tournaments, including the 2021 AFCON qualifiers and the 2020 CHAN finals in Cameroon.

Rwanda were set to be one of the countries to compete at the 2020 CHAN finals next month where they were placed in Group C which has Morocco, Uganda and Togo.

But, reports from Rwanda yesterday said the country’s leaders were concerned about the coronavirus and had ordered all the sports activities, set in foreign countries, especially those nations that have confirmed cases of coronavirus, to be put on hold.

The Rwandan authorities also appealed to the local sports associations to plead their cases with the continental sports organisations, like the Confederation of African Football, to avoid possible sanctions.

‘’This means that Rwanda won’t be travelling to Cape Verde for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifications and also the 2020 Africa Nations Championship in Cameroon,’’ various international media outlets reported last night. ‘’Coronavirus outbreak which was first reported in China has become a threat the world over and it has affected international sporting events negatively.

‘’Sports Associations in Rwanda, in their quest to put in place plans to prevent the outbreak of the deadly disease, have agreed to cancel all international sporting activities until further notice.

‘’The Ministry of Sports have called on the organisations to immediately contact those concerned at African or global level to avoid sanctions.’’ This could provide a huge test for the Confederation of African Football.

Yesterday, Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic said he wasn’t really sure whether their 2021 AFCON qualifier against Algeria will go ahead as scheduled in the Blida in about two weeks’ time.

Bilda has been the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Algeria, Africa’s worst hit nation. CAF have said they will continue to monitor the situation.

Egypt’s sports ministry also suspended all sports activities around the country yesterday, part of a series of measures to contain the threat of the new coronavirus in the country. On Monday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly issued a decree banning large public gatherings until further notice.

The decision comes in coordination with all the international sports organisations, the Egyptian Olympic Committee and all the Egyptian sports federations,” read a statement on the sports ministry’s official website.

“All the sports and youth events with large public gatherings are suspended amid coordination with the health ministry to sterilise all the training places,” the statement added.

According to the Egyptian Football Association, domestic football competitions will continue but will be played behind closed doors. Spain, Italy and other countries worldwide have also decided to hold football matches behind closed doors amid the outbreak of the virus disease.

Egypt’s culture ministry on Tuesday that it would be halting all its public events in the wake of the prime minister’s decision.

In Egypt, the virus has infected 59 people and killed a German tourist, according to the Health Ministry. The government has been taking a number of preventive measures in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. — Sports Reporter/Ghanasoccernet/Ahram Online.

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