African Athletics Confederation (CAA) President Hamad Kalkaba Malboum has said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the sport in Africa, adding that they are working to ensure that sport in Africa can survive similar disasters in the future.
“During this pandemic, like the rest of the world, all activities were stopped under country restrictions,” Malboum told the World Athletics website. “The only exception was Togo, where our AADC (African Area Development Centres) athletes have been able to keep on training as they were all living inside the center at the Kegue National Stadium.”
“In some countries, such as Mauritius, athletes were able to resume training on July 1. There are several expatriate athletes across our various training centers, but they’ve been able to go back home before returning in September to resume training when the athletics season restarts,” he added.
Due to the pandemic, the CAA has had to postpone two continental championships and they’re still working with World Athletics and Athletics Kenya to find new dates for the World U20 Championships in Nairobi.
“In 2021 the main focus for our top athletes will be on preparing and qualifying for the Olympics, although at this moment the calendar for next year is looking quite poor,” said Malboum.
“In recent weeks we’ve seen athletes in Europe return to competitions and training facilities, so hopefully it won’t be long before governments in Africa make similar decisions that will allow our athletes to do the same.”
It may be a while until Africa – and, indeed, the rest of the world – has fully recovered from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Malboum is determined to implement measures to ensure athletics in the continent is prepared for any eventualities.
“During this pandemic we’ve learned that we need to put in place a strategy in case we face another similar situation in future,” he said. “Such a strategy should include advice from scientists about how athletes can continue to train in the event of lockdown. We also need to find means of guaranteeing and maintaining commitments with sponsors and host countries in case of a force majeure.”