Covid-19 ‘off-season’ congests local calendar

Thursday April 2 2020

NRC leader Fred Busulwa (L) and navigator

NRC leader Fred Busulwa (L) and navigator Joseph Bongole must endure an uncertain wait. PHOTO BY JOHN BATANUDDE  

By ABDUl-NASSER SSEMUGABI

Virtually nothing is going on in the sports field across the globe due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this dreaded compulsory break poses serious organisational challenges to the local sports calendar, if the crisis lasts more than a month.

Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) president Moses Muhangi welcomed the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last week, “for the safety of our athletes” but was quick to point out the backlog of events created by the current slumber.

“If the situation normalises, say in June, it means all the deferred events [on our calendar] must happen in a very short period, which means organisational and financial challenges,” Muhangi told Daily Monitor before reiterating the concern on NTV’s Talk of the Nation on Saturday.

That was just three days after President Museveni announced the ban on most businesses and public transport yet two days later, he announced even stricter measures which locked down even arcades, which house some of the boxing gyms. So even when the coronavi rus is contained, the boxers might need some time to regain fitness for competitions.

The National Intermediates Boxing Championship were supposed to begin three days before Museveni issued the first phase of the lockdown.

The event that was skipped last year due to financial constraints, was suspended indefinitely.

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Yet soon after, there was supposed to be the National Open, the tournament that prepares boxers for national duty. That also automatically has to be rescheduled. The National Schools Championship happens around June. That could also be rescheduled or foregone.

Sponsorship woes
In motor rally, defending champion Yasin Nasser and several other drivers would be heading to Masaka for the third National Rally Championship this weekend but their machines will stay in the garages, after the Presidential directive banning private cars for 14 days.

The event was suspended until further notice, likewise the East African Motorcross Championship slated for the Easter weekend at Garuga, which counts towards the second round of MX Championship.

Yet the major concern for the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda, is about sponsorship.
It is reported that Shell injects US$50,000 into the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally every year.

The event’s date of mid-August could not be changed.

But shall Shell, whose accounts are depleted by the ban on public transport and all private vehicles have the resources to fund the event?

Twaha Ddungu, the president of the Uganda Bodybuilding and Fitness Association, expressed his concern that Mr Kampala Championship, the first of two events on the national bodybuilding calendar, which was scheduled for April 18.

“It’s a huge blow to us because convincing sponsors is not easy. But we have to go through the same tedious process,” he said.

For federations like Uganda Athletics Federation, which bank on remittances from international federations, postponement of the Olympics, and the current hiatus threatens more far-reaching consequences than just athlete fitness.

Already, Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori has warned International Federations that deciding who covers the additional costs arising from the postponement of the Olympic Games will be a “major challenge”.

“The extra cost that will arise from this postponement is inevitable,” Mori was quoted by Inside the Games website.

That means that International Amateur Athletics Federation, for instance, might cut down on their budget for the different local federations.

UAF spokesperson Namayo Mawerere and his boss Dominic Otucet did not answer our calls for a comment on this story.

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