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Condemned

Bingu National Stadium rated not yet suitable for Region 5 athletics

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Malawi’s intent to host Region 5 Youth Games successfully has suffered a huge setback after an inspector condemned some of the facilities, including an electronic timer and running track at Bingu National Stadium, Malawi News Sport can reveal.

According to sources, an expert from Zambia inspected the facility on October 12 and immediately doomed the electronic timer and running track ahead of the regional biennial games slated to run from December 2 to 12 in the Capital City.

In a report, which was presented to the Games’ Local Organising Committee, results of some athletics events will not be recognised by the World Athletics due to a faulty timer and poor running track.

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“It was discovered that the Malawi Government had in stock the Joy Sport Electronic Timing Equipment (Chinese Brand) whose software, manuals and laptops were not available during the inspection and suspected to have been stolen or misplaced.

“We tried to contact the manufacturer of the equipment in China with a view of getting some software but there was no response at the time of this report. We discovered some software CD in some boxes with no clear instructions and in Chinese language, which we installed on some computer and only managed to have a wind gauge which was not giving correct reading as it was always at +0.0. Therefore, Joy Sport Timing Equipment cannot be used for Region 5 Games,” part of the report dated October 17 read.

The report also faulted the running track.

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“We inspected the running track and discovered that the lane lines are very faint and need to be repainted, and, or, the track completely replaced as it has stayed more than four years which is against World Athletics requirements.

“The running track, particularly at finish line, makes part of the timing components as there are some marks we use at the finish line and they need to be marked accordingly in accordance with timing requirements to complete a photo finish for a zero start recording,” the report stated.

The expert did not find any faults on man holes but stadium video wall and technical expertise of local timing officials.

“The man holes are a critical component of the timing cabling and installation of the electronic timing equipment. We are pleased to inform you that they are very ok clear.

“The stadium video wall has software problem and there is need to replace the computers and install the new software. During the two days of inspection, the local timing officials/team were available and eager to know how to use the equipment but we highly recommend for critical training and practice, particularly on the photo finish operator who needs to be extremely fast, quick and accurate, particularly for Live TV results.

According to the report, an electronic timer recognised by World Athletics costs about 63,548 Euros [about K64 million].

Meanwhile, sources revealed that the Games’ Local Organising Committee was considering hiring an electronic timer from neighbouring countries.

“However, the cost of hiring is close to buying a new one,” said the source.

Ministry of Youth and Sports spokesperson Andrew Nyondo declined to comment on the matter but referred us to the Games’ Local Organising Committee.

The committee’s chairperson of technical Lisungu Banda confirmed the report but she also referred us to the games competitions manager Frank Chitembeya, who is also Athletics Association of Malawi General Secretary.

Chitembeya was confident that the problems will be sorted out in time before the competition starts.

“We might seem to be overwhelmed but we hope that everything will be in order by the time we host the games. Of course the electronic timer and synthetic running track are crucial in athletics for credible results,” he said.

Region 5 Games will attract about 3,000 athletes from 10 southern African countries, who are expected to fight for glory in the 10th edition of the Games.

Mozambique was the inaugural host of the event in 2004.

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