March 18 – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has postponed the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN), an international tournament with domestic-based players only, amid growing concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In a statement, CAF said that the governing body’s emergency committee decided “to postpone the competition until further notice.” CAF had sent a medical inspection team to Cameroon, this year’s host, and based on its findings decided that CHAN, scheduled for April, should not proceed.
The president of CHAN’s local organising committee in Cameroon had asked CAF to reconsider the immediate future of the tournament, arguing that it would be “the most sane decision.
“Human life hasn’t got a price,” said Narcisse Mouelle Kombi. “This is a tournament many African football lovers look forward to but the severity of the current health crisis makes it tough for us to host now.”
To date, Africa remains relatively unaffected by cases of the coronavirus, even if the outbreak has spread to at least 30 countries. Defending champions Morocco and Namibia had both already pulled out of the tournament before CAF’s decision.
CAF’s decision was based on the advice of the World Health Organisation, the general corona situation on the continent and travel implications. With its decision, CAF stated that it wanted to “avoid any useless risk” and that the administration will propose new dates for the tournament. It also announced that both the confederation’s executive committee and general assembly were postponed.
Earlier this week CAF awarded the hosting rights of its two 2020 flagship club finals to Douala and Rabat. The Cameroonian city was chosen to stage this season’s African Champions League final and the Moroccan capital Rabat will host the Confederation Cup final.
In a move designed to generate greater interest in the club finals, CAF has abandoned the two-legged format. “The two cities got the nod following evaluation of… key facilities such as infrastructure, accommodation (and) medical amongst others,” said a CAF statement.
However, both finals will be played in May and their immediate future could also be in danger.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1585725166labto1585725166ofdlr1585725166owedi1585725166sni@o1585725166fni1585725166