By Basil K Mbuye
The decision by the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, to temporarily suspend collective sporting activities in the country to curb COVID-19 spread has been received with mixed feelings.
Minister Mouelle Kombi, in a recent communiqué, suspended all forms of collective sports due to the fact that some organisers or owners don’t respect the measures put in place on March 17, by the Prime Minister.
To the Sports Minister’s decision is in accordance with the Prime Minister, Dione Ngute’s, circulars No. 200/005/MINSEP/CAB of 19th March, 2020 and No.007/MINSEP?CAB of 1st April,2020, laying down national measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In the recent press release, Mouelle Kombi cautions all owners of sports facilities and organisers of the football championship.
“The Minister of Sports and Physical Education calls for the responsibility of all actors of the national sports community, to avoid making the practice of sports which is commonly a factor of well-being and good physical and mental health, to become a fertile ground for the spread of this pandemic whose evolution remains worrying in our country.
“…to the attention of these actors (sports managers, managers of sports facilities or owners of exploited areas), the obligation to seriously respect hygiene rules recommended by the World Health Organization, WHO, as well as safety measures laid down by the Government,” it reads.
He, therefore, invites each and everyone to temporarily suspend all forms of the collective practice of physical and sporting activities likely to undermine the proper observance of the said rules and measures (football matches, holiday championships with massive crowding and so on).”
He goes further to assure the public that, in due time, measures will be arrived at to see the resumption of these activities.
Sports lovers have welcomed the decision with mixed feelings. To some, it is a great move from the Minister of Sports.
“With the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the country, I think the Minister’s decision is applauded. Remember we are into the holiday period when many football encounters are always organised by elite across their areas of origin to keep holidaymakers busy. Without the Minister’s decision, many of these competitions will be organised and it will be against the respect of anti-COVID-19 barrier measures which may instead help spread the virus further. We pray the Minister ensures the decision is implemented in order to help gov’t curb the spread of the virus,” Bertrand Doh, explained.
Another sports lover, Barrister Jerry Fombon said: “From the press release, it isn’t to my mind really a suspension as such, because, in one breath he talks of the hygiene rules to be scrupulously respected. Thus, if the hygiene rules are responsibly respected, I don’t think group sports can be an issue.”
Isifu Michael Wirfengla, a sports writer and referee agrees with the decision, while also pointing out that it doesn’t disturb individual sports.
“It’s not a bad thing to call people to order amid a pandemic, for their own good. The communiqué doesn’t ban sporting activities ipso facto. I understand that I am free to do sports so long as it’s not in a crowd, so long as I respect coronavirus barrier measures. I should say that life is sport and sport is life. It’s not as easy to stay off sports just for two weeks. If people are conscious of the virus and observe hygiene and social distancing, as they do in bars, I see no reason why they should be deprived of sports.”
To Ndille Ndille Njume, a sports enthusiast in Yaounde, the decision should have come earlier when the Prime Minister dished out measures to curb the spread of COVID 19.
“Well, we now have more than 17,000 confirmed Covid19 cases. So, I think the Minister is playing safe; health first. We all know interactive sports bring many people together. It is, however, surprising to notice that this decision comes when Government earlier lessened restrictive measures with the reopening of airports announced by the Prime Minister.
Some observers are asking why churches, night clubs, drinking sports, among others, have not been suspended during this period that the number of infected persons is increasing. The decision has greatly affected many organisers of football holiday championship that were due to kick start after the exams.