African Athletics Confederation (CAA) president Hamad Kalkaba Malboum said in an interview on Wednesday that they are working to ensure that sport in Africa can survive similar disasters in the future as the COVID-19 pandemic has hit them hard.
“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 1 July. 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 postponed two continental championships to the year 2021. Malboum noted that they are 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,” he noted.
With livelihoods severely affected by the pandemic, Malboum said that the CAA has set about trying to secure additional funding for Africa’s top athletes. “Several athletes thankfully benefitted from the fund set up by World Athletics.
The CAA is also working to implement a permanent sports support fund in the event that we face a pandemic again in the future, so we have made a proposal to the African Union and ANOAA (Association of National Olympic Academies of Africa) to ensure that our sport is not jeopardized if such disasters occur again.”
“During this pandemic, we’ve learned that we need to put in place a strategy in case we face another similar situation in future.
Such a strategy should include advice from scientists about how athletes can continue to train in the event of a lockdown.
We also need to find means of guaranteeing and maintaining commitments with sponsors and host countries in case of a force majeure,” he said.