Sport left hanging

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The upsurge in coronavirus infections in the country and the subsequent extension of the lockdown by two weeks by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Sunday has plunged Zimbabwean sport into further state of uncertainty.

BY Kevin Mapasure

Throughout the globe, sporting activities have been put on hold as the fight against the virus continues, but locally there are no indications as to when sport will be allowed to resume.

Mnangagwa noted in his speech on Sunday that the government was expecting more cases and hinted restrictive measures could even be extended if the situation gets worse.

Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams were expecting to resume training after the 21-day lockdown that ended on Sunday, but they will have to hold on for a further two weeks with players doing individual training at home.

PSL boss Kenny Ndebele told NewsDay Sport last month that there might not be any football activity this year. When he first made that suggestion, it seemed a remote possibility and at that time Zimbabwe only had a handful of cases to deal with, but the numbers have since risen to 25, according to figures provided by the Health ministry by evening yesterday.

Ndebele’s assertion is now looking more of a possibility with the threat of the virus not waning.

With more Zimbabweans expected to troop back home from different parts of the world and more cases are expected to be unearthed.

With the current lockdown only expected to end on May 3, the prospects of a full league programme are unlikely.

The situation has left the football publics waiting and wondering on what could be the final outcome in the end.

Other leagues are already exploring ways to resume with some countries in Europe already lifting some of the restrictions.

In Germany, Bundesliga teams have returned to training, while in Italy they are looking to allow teams to start training next month.

South Africa was looking at completing their league in June, but with the infections having breached the 300 mark and with the lockdown having also been extended, it is unlikely they will return during that period.

The national cricket team could also be hard hit as they expected to host Afghanistan next month.

That tour is in danger of being scrapped or pushed to a later date.

Zimbabwe has already seen its home tough against Ireland dropped due to the pandemic, while the trip to Australia in July is their brightest prospect of a return to international cricket.

This year, Zimbabwe had drawn up a congested calendar which would have seen the team play both white and red ball cricket during the greater part of the year.

But those plans have suffered the effects of the coronavirus which means Zimbabwe Cricket will have to start negotiating for tours as most nations are set to redraw their schedules after several tours were scrapped.

Domestic cricket has already lost out and it will only return next season, which starts towards the end of the year.

The national 15s rugby team have a packed schedule that includes the SuperSport Challenge, the Victoria Cup and the Africa Cup.

Yet with the current situation it is unlikely that they will get to play all three competitions.
They would have wanted to defend their Victoria Cup title, but the rate of infections in the county and in some of the countries that they are supposed to face means that certain matches may have to be scratched off.