Harare - All sporting activities which were scheduled to take place in Zimbabwe, including the Premier Soccer League, have been indefinitely postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a ban on all public gatherings of more than 100 people as a measure to contain the epidemic.
The Premier Soccer League season which was scheduled to kick off this weekend has been shelved to early June, while Charles Manyuchi’s World Boxing Federation middleweight boxing title bout against Ugandan fighter, Mohamed Sebyla, has also been rescheduled.
The duel was supposed to be held in Harare on April 4.
The International Handball Federation Zone V1 tournament which was pencilled for Harare next month has been cancelled.
Zimbabwe has not recorded any Covid-19 case as yet but the authorities are not taking any chances with President Mnangagwa declaring it a national disaster and ordering a stop to gatherings of more than 100 people.
The coronavirus pandemic, which started in China late last year, has spread to all continents with sporting activities being shelved across the globe.
And Zimbabwe is the latest country to issue those measures in Southern Africa after Namibia and South Africa did that last week.
Both countries have confirmed cases of the pandemic that has claimed over 4 500 lives and infected in excess of 100 000 people worldwide.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has since cancelled the match day 3 and 4 of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers which were scheduled to take place between this weekend and next week due to the pandemic.
And the Zimbabwean Premier Soccer League, whose preparations had been wrapped up, will only be played after the initial 60 days’ window proclaimed by the President.
Virtually all premiership matches in Zimbabwe attract more than 200 spectators countrywide and the league authorities have decided to postpone the action.
PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele confirmed the development.
"Yes, we have decided to postpone the start of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus epidemic in line with the President's instruction to avoid gatherings of more than 100 people. All our matches in the league attract in excess of that number so we saw it prudent to shelve everything," said Ndebele.
"It's a blow but we have to do what is right. People's lives are at stake and we have to comply with the instructions from our President.
"We will keep on praying and hoping that the situation will normalise."
Ndebele didn't rule out the possibility of a switch in season from August to May from the March-November calendar.
Zimbabwe are one of the only few countries yet to adopt the international August to May term and could take advantage of this window to prepare infrastructure for the switch.
Manyuchi, who is mandated by the WBF to defend his title within six months, having won the crown in September last year, will have to wait for another date or find a neutral venue for the bout.
“We don’t have any choice as of now. People’s lives matter the most, everything else is secondary. We have cancelled that fight provisionally waiting for WBF to give a position. Maybe it could be played behind closed doors or on neutral soil. But we believe people’s lives matter the most,” he said.
Likewise, the IHF Zone V1 has also been postponed with Zimbabwe Handball Federation president Stewart Sanhewe saying that was the best thing to do following President Mnangagwa’s announcement.