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Coronavirus hits home

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Affected: Mogopa will not travel to Morocco
Judoka, Gavin Mogopa will not be able to take part in the Judo Grand Prix, which was scheduled for Morocco, after the competition was cancelled over coronavirus fears.

The Botswana Judo Federation (BJF) reacted with shock that the tournament, which was supposed to start today, had been cancelled. Morocco recently reported its first case of coronavirus as the illness continues to spread across the Middle East and North Africa. 

Mogopa was to use the event to accumulate points in his bid to qualify for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

BJF spokesperson, Gaongalelwe Morris told Mmegi Sport that they are not aware of the cancellation. She said they were yet to receive communication from the International Judo Federation (IJF).

“Mogopa is busy with preparations because he is due to compete at the Africa Championship in Morocco. So it means if the Grand Prix has been cancelled, the same thing would happen to the championships,” she said.

Morris said they were yet to meet as the BJF executive committee to map a way forward. She said the way things were unfolding, there are chances of the Olympics being cancelled.

The IJF released a statement on Wednesday morning announcing the cancellation. “We regret to inform you that due to the coronavirus outbreak and the world health situation, specifically within Morocco, where precautionary measures have been scaled up as of today, the Judo Grand Prix in Rabat, Morocco scheduled from March 6-8 was cancelled upon decision of the Moroccan Government,” the statement reads in part.

The IJF further said all international sports competitions, exhibitions and public gatherings have also been cancelled or postponed in Morocco.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive body released a

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statement this week stating their full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games in the face of the coronavirus.

“The IOC board heard a report on all measures taken so far to address the coronavirus situation, which was followed by a comprehensive situation, which was followed by a comprehensive discussion,” reads
the statement in part.

The Minister of Youth Empowerment,
Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare was asked about the future of the games during a press conference in Gaborone this week.

“Whether we are going to have Olympics or not, whether the Olympics are going to be moved to another city or not, that is not our call as
Botswana,” he responded.

Rakgare added they would continue monitoring the situation to decide if they would send a team to the Olympics. He said there is still movement of people between cities. He said IOC would guide the government because they (IOC) are keeping its ear on the ground.
“We met IOC president last week and he did not indicate to us if they would postpone the Olympics or move them to another city.  Our concern is not our athletes only, we are sport people and we believe that Olympics must go ahead as a government,” he said.

Rakgare said if the virus is out of control and the Japanese government has not done enough to prepare for any eventualities, that
would mean they have to decide if they can participate or not.



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