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MBABANE – It is a serious issue. That is the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) which has prompted the country, through the Eswatini Sport and Recreation Council (ESRC) in collaboration with government, to suspend all international participation in sports with immediate effect.

The shocking news were disclosed by ESRC’s Zama Tsabedze and confirmed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Darius Dlomo through a press statement.

According to Tsabedze, they had reached a decision, following lengthy consultation with the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs, to suspend emaSwati’s international participation until the coronavirus pandemic affecting the entire globe was normalised.


“We cannot afford to put emaSwati’s lives in danger, which is why we have reached a measured decision to suspend all international participation of all member sports associations affiliated to the council,” said Tsabedze.

He said they were yet to decide on how to deal with cases of international athletes coming to compete in the country.
Dlomo, on the other hand, said they had taken a decision that puts the interest and safety of emaSwati first.

“Following reports by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Eswatini Sports and Recreation Council has taken a very considered decision, which puts the interests and safety of our athletes and citizens above all else, to suspend all international travel by our respective recognised sports bodies for various sports-related engagements until the situation with the outbreak is normalised,” reads the statement in part.

The CEO further highlighted that ESRC would as such, not be recommending any international participation clearance of any individual or national team to the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs.

“ESRC requests for utmost cooperation from all concerned to ensure the safety of our citizens from this epidemic,” he said.
Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Vice President Dr Comfort Shongwe said it was an unfair statement by the ESRC.
The vice president said the coronavirus was a serious issue and precaution measures were to be taken, however, he said it was not practically possible to suspend international participation of all sports.


“Rather, they should say we take extra-precaution measures, not entirely suspend international participation. Besides, we should have been engaged as affiliating associations before taking such a big decision and I suggest they call an extraordinary meeting so that we deliberate on the issue,” said Shongwe.

He added that the EFA had to honour international tournaments such as the COSAFA and AFCON Qualifiers and by just abandoning those tournaments, the country would face financial suctions and penalties as other associations were affiliated to international sports associations and skipping their activities had serious corollaries.

Shongwe said other nations were taking serious precautions but were not suspending games.
Eswatini Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association (EOCGA) CEO Sidney Simelane said they were an arm of government and if government had taken that stance, they had to respect and comply as they prioritised the safety of athletes regardless of their plans.

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