COVID 19: ANOCA examines the plight of african athletes and considers solutions

The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa met by videoconference on 10 June 2020, to take stock and look into the situation of the continent’s athletes with a view to implementing a strategic plan to assist them in the face of the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic.

Coordinated by ANOCA President, Mustapha Berraf, the meeting was open to over 55 participants drawn from the ANOCA Executive Committee, NOCs, Athletes’ Commissions, IOC members and Olympic Solidarity, among others, who interacted simultaneously, in a unified manner.

For 4 hours 30 minutes, participants generally discussed the predicament of African athletes who are hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which is ravaging the world at large and Africa in particular.

After the opening remarks by the President, the floor was given to the Chair of the ANOCA Athletes’ Commission, Amadou Dia Ba, who thanked ANOCA, the IOC and Olympic Solidarity for all the efforts made to support athletes and the special attention accorded them. He welcomed the initiative of ANOCA officials to organise this important meeting, which will help examine the situation more closely during this period of the pandemic. His words were buttressed by the Vice President, who also reported on the decisions taken during the Kampala meeting.

It was observed that the prospects of Africa’s participation in major sports events such as the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, were at the moment jeopardised by the harsh daily existence of the athletes, who cannot prepare for the event with a cool head. Such a situation does not bode well for Africa’s performances and quality results at the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

To avoid delaying the preparation of African athletes, ANOCA undertook, after the fruitful videoconference discussions of 10 June 2020, to allocate more financial resources to support athletes.

To achieve this goal,” President Berraf said, “savings on the recurrent budget of ANOCA were considerably increased. With this package, added to savings amounting to U.S. $ 1 million plus the previously earmarked U.S. $ 1 million support and the U.S. $ 3.1 million grant from ANOC, we are upbeat that the self-confidence of athletes will be restored.” It was noted that the psychological aspect will have to be taken into account to ensure the mental health and fitness of athletes.

Mustapha Berraf then went on to say: “We must act quickly, be at the disposal of one another and, above all, listen regularly to all stakeholders of the African Olympic Movement. Athletes’ Commissions must propose activities to NOC Executive Committees, especially to address the needs of athletes who are supported through the World and Continental Programme.”

Olivier Niamkey Head of the Athletes’ Unit of Olympic Solidarity, suggested workable solutions while presenting the adaptations to Olympic Solidarity programmes as concerns athletes: individual scholarships for Tokyo 2020, support to team sports.

Yassine Yousfi, Official in Charge of Africa at Olympic Solidarity, for his part spoke specifically about ANOC assistance to ANOCA ($ 3.1 million) which shall be made available to the 54 African NOCs to help cope with the exceptional conditions in their preparation for Tokyo 2020 and the COVID 19 crisis. All solutions will be studied so that this additional funding can be distributed to NOCs in coordination with ANOC, ANOCA and Olympic Solidarity, taking into account existing world and continental programmes to avoid duplication.

Girard-Savoy Nicole, Finance Officer at Olympic Solidarity, spoke about IOC grants for participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which are at the disposal of NOCs and which have been tailored to the situation resulting from the postponement of the Olympic Games to 2020.  She said she was readily available to provide information to all those who may need it.

For Kalkaba Malboum, President of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) and President of NOC Cameroon, “the Olympic movement must help athletes to continue training and meet their daily needs, envisage home-made solutions because the reality of the COVID is not always the same in Africa as in the rest of the world.

The census of athletes in difficulty should be well coordinated for informed decision-making. The main speakers said there was need to take into account new criteria for granting scholarships proposed by ANOCA and consider projections.

Several speakers dwelled on the need to provide for the basic needs of the athletes spread across the African continent. The size of the territories and the current regional disparities must be carefully examined, the NOC and Executive Committee officials insisted.

Ms Tegla Loroupe for her part made a presentation on the situation of refugee athletes to whom the IOC pays special attention. The ANOCA President reassured her and said that the continental association is readily available to provide any help she might need.  As for the President of the Tokyo 2020 Commission, he reported on the efforts made by ANOCA and Olympic Solidarity to support the participation of athletes in the Olympic Games, but requested NOC technical officials to ensure that the scholarships granted are regularised and justified.

The difficulties faced by some NOCs in these hard times due to the pandemic will be examined on a case-by-case basis and remedial decisions taken collectively.

Particular emphasis was laid on the current good quality governance at ANOCA, which all participants deemed exemplary. They thanked the President of ANOCA, Mustapha Berraf, and the members of the Executive Committee, for the very laudable initiatives undertaken since their election and the quality of the deliberations, which concluded with sound proposals.

To round off, the President moved that participants adopt a joint resolution condemning discrimination and racism in the World and especially in sport. The resolution was adopted unanimously. It is directly in line with the decisions taken in this regard, that very day, by the IOC Executive Board chaired by Thomas Bach, and was warmly welcomed by all participants.

The ANOCA President warmly thanked all the participants for their contributions and requested officials of relevant structures to ensure that all the recommendations are taken into account and, above all, implemented.

Resolution of 10 June 2020.

“The African Olympic and Sports Movement represented by its athletes, technicians, administrators and sports circles, condemns in the strongest terms all acts of racism and discrimination observed in some parts of the World and which seriously affect our society, a society that should be humanitarian, egalitarian, and resolutely geared towards progress and modernity. Members of the African Olympic and Sports movement welcome the recent decisions of the IOC in this regard under the stewardship of its President and hereby undertake to implement them.”

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