Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
THE Government yesterday took precautionary measures against the threat posed by coronavirus with sporting activities, because of their massive appeal to masses, being put on hold for the next two months.
In his State of the Nation Address at State House yesterday, President Mnangagwa said gatherings of more than 100 people have been suspended for the next 60 days.
“Government has decided to postpone, curtail or cancel public events, gatherings and activities,’’ he said.
“In that respect, Government has postponed the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, ZITF, all national Independence celebrations previously planned, and pending international sporting fixtures, until the threat of coronavirus recedes.
“All these activities will resume as soon as we are satisfied that our nation is no longer at risk.’’
The 2020 local sporting season, for most of the sports codes, was just getting underway.
Some of the highlights for the next two months included the International Handball Federation Trophy Zone Six tournament which had been scheduled for April 24 to 30 in Harare.
It has since been postponed.
The Zimbabwe Handball Federation also received communication from the International Handball Federation postponing the regional competition.
Their secretary-general, Edson Chirowodza, confirmed the move and said they had also cancelled camp for the local teams pencilled for this week.
“In fact, all IHF tournaments have been postponed and, with regards to the Zimbabwe tournament, we will discuss with them possible new dates in line with IHF calendar.
“But, at the moment, the tournament that was scheduled for April has been postponed.’’
Judo Association of Zimbabwe had the Japanese Ambassador Cup lined up for the end of the month and that has also been postponed.
For the first time, the tournament was expected to attract athletes from Zambia.
“We have to postpone now as we are not allowed to have more than 100 (people) gathering,” said JAZ president, Smart Deke.
Zimbabwe Karate Union were supposed to hold the Japanese Ambassador Cup this Saturday and an invitational event the following weekend.
But ZKU president, Joe Rugwete, said they were now planning to cancel both events.
The ZKU had also been scheduled to send a team for the Africa Union Sports Council Region Five tournament in May and that event has been cancelled.
It’s the same story with the 2020 Zimbabwe Open Golf tournament, which has been postponed to a later date, following consultation between the Zimbabwe Open Committee and stakeholders.
The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe calendar had a number of events lined up, including the Bulawayo Athletic Board track and field, Bulawayo marathon, national track and field championships and the JM Busha Triangular Series second leg between this month and April.
The National Association of Secondary School Heads and National Association of Primary School Heads athletics inter-provincial meet, scheduled for Peterhouse from March 24 to 26, has been suspended.
All Naph and Nash provincial sports meetings have also been put on hold.
The Rainbow Amateur Netball League had just entered Week Three but has now been suspended.
“I would like to advise the entire RANL family that due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged communities across the globe, we have decided to postpone our games by two weeks, while we monitor the situation,’’ said RANL secretary-general, Moses Gukurume, in a statement.
“The President of the Republic has declared it a state of national disaster. So, what he says becomes policy and we abide by it.
“I know that it is for the greater good of our communities. Please stay safe and follow all the guidelines that our Government, through the Ministry of Health, are giving to protect each other.
“With all our efforts, and working together, we will get through this period safe and sound.’’
The Zimbabwe Volleyball Association are also among those organisations who have put on hold their activities, postponing all national and international activities for the period from March 16 to April 30.
The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in the cancellation of sporting activities, including some of the Olympic qualifiers for Tokyo 2020.
However, the International Olympic Committee have encouraged athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games despite the threat posed by the pandemic. World Athletics have suspended the next three Diamond League races, the French Open has been moved to September while the Masters golf tournament has also been postponed.