Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) says where necessary, it will recommend the withdrawal from international tournaments in the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) spurge.
The council’s acting executive secretary Henry Mereka also said if need be, it will recommend the exclusion of foreign-based athletes from national duty.
He said these are some of the preventive measures that MNCS has put in place in the wake of the outbreak.
“The move is meant to put the interests and safety of our athletes and citizens above all else and if need be, we shall suspend all international travel by our respective recognised sports bodies for various sports-related engagements until the situation with the outbreak is normalised,” he said.
The development comes ahead of some international engagements such as the Netball World Youth Cup qualifiers slated for Uganda in May.
A team of athletes is also expected to take part in the 2020 Africa Cross-country Championships in Lome, Togo next month while judo athletes are also scheduled to compete in 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifiers in Morocco in May.
Said Mereka: “Although we have not yet registered any case locally, we believe that there is need for sports associations to take precautionary measures and make sure that athletes are aware of the pandemic and that they pay attention to the ways and means of how they can protect themselves.
“We have a situation where some of the athletes could be needed for international engagements. We are still in discussion with associations to see how best we can handle that, but where we think it’s a risk to bring them back for competitions, then we shall seek the advice of the Ministry of Health [and Population] and where necessary, we shall avoid to bring such athletes.
“They might not be affected, but you never know what happens in transit. So, we would actually be looking at limiting movements of athletes so that we monitor the situation until the situation becomes stable.
“This is an epidemic that has overwhelmed the globe and as council we cannot overlook it. We have sports that is pretty much contact and that is the whole basis of the spread of the virus.”
He said they have also asked responsible associations to monitor foreign-based athletes’ situation so that they are protected from contracting the virus.
“We have athletes that are in other countries that have been affected greatly like China and we believe that they are taking care of themselves and we asked the responsible associations to be in constant touch with them,” said Mereka.
Athletics Association of Malawi general secretary Frank Chitembeya said in the wake of the coronavirus situation, they are not decided on whether they should still send athletes to Togo.
“The tournament will also act as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympics. So, it is an important event, but we cannot take chances. We are in a tight situation.
“Under such circumstances, we will have to be guided by the authorities,” he said.