PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has announced cancellation of all sporting activities and events that are of a huge public nature, as part of strengthening preventive measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
This comes barely a day after Tanzania, through the Ministry for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children confirmed one case of a person who tested positive to the deadly coronavirus in Arusha.
In his address to the nation on Tuesday, Premier Majaliwa said the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports will to the immediate effect communicate to all sports bodies that they should halt sporting activities at least for one month as the government continues to monitor the situation.
Premier Majaliwa, whose office is in charge of Disaster Management Department (DMD), also insisted that all inter-primary school games (UMITASHUMTA) and inter-secondary (UMISSETA) have been cancelled indefinitely.
Immediately after the announcement, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) issued a statement to that effect.
This means, the Mainland Premier League and other lower leagues will come to an abrupt halt at least for one month.
Runaway top flight leaders Simba, who needs to win five matches to retain the title for the third straight season, will have to wait a little bit longer for them to be crowned champions for 21st times.
It also means that the national team, Taifa Stars camp to prepare for the 2020 African Nation Championships (CHAN) scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon from April 4th to 25th this year has been dissolved.
Earlier on the day, the TFF, announced that the fate of top flight and other lower division’s leagues will be known today after Tanzania Premier League Board (TPLB) emergency meeting.
According to a statement issued yesterday by the TFF Information and Communication Officer, Clifford Ndimbo, the federation president, Wallace Karia directed to TPLB Management Committee to meet today to deliberate the ways forward.
“TFF president has directed TPBL management committee to meet and decide the fate of the league due to the global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus,” Ndimbo said in a statement.
The need to take all precautionary measures necessary against the rapidly-spreading coronavirus has forced sports bodies across the world to temporarily call off leagues and other competitions.
Last week, the Confederation of African Football Association called off all African Cup of Nations qualifiers but maintained that the 2020 African Nation Championships (CHAN) scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon in April shall go ahead as planned. However, speculations emerged yesterday that CHAN has also been called off due to the coronavirus threat.
CAF is expected to make a decision on the future of the tournament this week, with sources revealing that CAF could finally consider FIFA’s recent recommendation to its members.
World football’s governing body last week advised its member bodies to suspend all football events until at least April with the hope that a better way to curb the pandemic will be suggested by then.
FIFA also made an alteration to their rule governing players and the international call ups, with clubs and players now free to reject national team call ups.
South Africa became the latest country to halt their league on Monday. Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia are other countries that have shut football activities.