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Breath again, whiff of sports comeback is apparent

IT will take the whole generation to forget Covid-19 scare as the deadly virus has already killed and deeply hurt sports globally.

The sports world is witnessing a significant impact as governments and managing bodies grapple with how to handle high-profile events that draw big crowds.

Most notably are UEFA Champions League, AFCON Qualifiers, and CHAN finals and as well as the 2020 Olympics in Japan, which Tanzania was to participate in effectively.

Tanzania, like other countries in the world, will resume its top flight league in empty stadiums after being deeply hurt by the suspension.

The renovation of the Majaliwa Stadium in Ruangwa, Lindi is going to be completed next month, but Lindi residents won’t watch in the improved arena as all matches will be staged behind closed doors.

The stadium which is used by the Mainland Premier League side Namungo FC, has been undergoing renovation as one way to implement club licensing requirements which among other things, demand clubs to have good facilities.

Admiring the ongoing works at the venue recently was the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), Competitions Director, Salum Madadi who said once the upgrade works are over, it will have FIFA and CAF standards.

Will Simba maintain their form after its players remained inactive for over six weeks?

That has been the big worry from the club’s supporters as some of them even worry if the team’s top scorer Meddie Kagere will remain lethal when the Premier League resumes after the end of Covid-19 scare.

Simba also face a situation similar to that of Liverpool, who like the Tanzanian football giants welcome the Premier League resumption as good news.

There are Young Africans who are chasing the title far behind the leaders Simba and the second-placed Azam FC.

Both teams have been actively intensifying their squads ready for the comeback, but fans and supporters want their teams to train intensively before playing any match.

Besides the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which has been postponed until 2021, are African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and African Nations Championship (CHAN).

The Taifa Stars squad which pitched a camp for the two events was disbanded. It was announced last week the Mainland Premier League will resume after 30 days, but the remaining matches will be played behind closed doors.

This decision was reached by the Management Committee of the Tanzania Premier League Board (TPLB) that convened an emergency meeting in Dar es Salaam last week.

The TPLB drew plans which would see all remaining league matches completed by June.

The development comes after the suspension of all sports-related activities as a precaution step to halt the further spread of the coronavirus, which has reached an alarming stage across the globe.

The need to take all precautionary measures necessary against the rapidly-spreading coronavirus forced sports bodies across the world to temporarily call off leagues and other competitions .

After the meeting, TPLB Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Almas Kasongo said that the board has come up with four resolutions, of which all leagues will resume after 30 days but matches will be played behind closed doors.

“We have agreed that top flight, First Division League (FDL), Second Division League (SDL) and Regional Champions League (RCL) will resume after 30 days, only that all the games will be played in an empty stadium,” Kasongo said.

He also said that all players will be screened before the kickoff of any game to determine their health status in regard to coronavirus.

The board has also resolved that all leagues should be concluded by June this year. It was a big blow for the country’s two athletes Alphonce Simbu and Failuna Abdi Matanga who had already pitched a camp for the Olympics which was to be staged in July, this year.

The two were the only two Tanzanians who had already qualified for the Olympic when the International Olympic Committee announced in April, 2020 that Tokyo Olympics was postponed until 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

They will be held “no later than” summer of 2021, leaving open the possibility that they could happen in the spring of 2021.

The IOC will begin rolling out rescheduling plans in the coming weeks.

A whopping 92 percent of the athletes surveyed reported the quality of their training had been impacted in some way, and 68 percent of them said that the Olympics would not be a fair playing field if held as scheduled.

The statement was preceded by USA Swimming, USA Track & Field and USA Gymnastics all coming out in support of postponing the Games.

Canada became the first country to pull out of the 2020 Olympics due to coronavirus concerns, announcing it would not send athletes to Tokyo without a postponement of at least a year.

The Australian Olympic Committee has also told its athletes to prepare for a 2021 Olympics rather than competing this year.

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Author: MIGUEL SULEYMAN

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