African Union Sports Council (AUSC) has shifted the 2020 Region 5 Youth Games to next year.
This follows the uncertainty surrounding sports resumption in most member countries after suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The developmental games were scheduled for Maseru, Lesotho, from December 4-13.
According to a statement AUSC issued on Tuesday, the Games will now be held in December 2021 with the 2022 Games scheduled for Malawi remaining unchanged.
“The decision was reached during the Troika of AUSC Region 5 Ministers of Sport virtual meeting held on Friday 31 July 2020. The indaba of July 31 was a follow-up assessment meeting to further assess the state of the impact of the pandemic on the Region 5 Games in line with the decision made in April.
“The spiking numbers of Covid-19 infections in almost all Region 5 member countries continues to be a cause of concern and source of anxiety in the sports movement. This prompted the ministers to resolve that the current regulations of the Games be revamped to provide adequate preventive measures against any epidemiological outbreaks and response protocols to any outbreaks before, during and after any future Games editions,” part of the statement reads.
Lesotho’s Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation minister Likeleli Tampane chairs the troika which includes Malawi’s Youth and Sport minister Ulemu Msungama and Botswana Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development minister Tumiso Rakgare.
The zonal body is confident this will ensure that the region remains vigilant and ready to prevent and deal with any outbreak episodes that may occur during preparations and hosting of future Games.
Msungama said it was important to postpone the Games as member countries would struggle to raise teams.
“Sporting activities remain suspended in the region and it would have been difficult for countries to raise teams,” he said.
Msungama said Malawi would continue with preparations to host the 2022 edition.
“We won’t relax but we will continue with our preparations, including construction of an international standard modern swimming pool at Kamuzu Institute for Sports,” he said.
Region 5 Youth Games are organised every two years. Hosting by member countries is on a mandatory rotational basis in alphabetic order.
The first edition of the Games was held in 2004 after a false start by Lesotho and Malawi.
After Maputo 2004, the Games have been held consistently.
The Maseru Games will be the ninth edition and are expected to attract over 2,000 athletes and officials who will participate and compete in eleven sports codes for 14 days.