President Peter Mutharika’s declaration of a State of Disaster due to the coronavirus pandemic has led to suspension of all sports activities, including the TNM Super League which was scheduled to kick off today.
In his special address to the nation, the President said: “Due to the spread of the coronavirus and the urgent need to seriously manage it, I have declared a State of Disaster in this country.
“My government is restricting public gathering to less than 100 people. This restriction applies to all gatherings.”
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Francis Phiso yesterday said in view of the President’s declaration, all sports activities have been suspended indefinitely.
“During this interim period, we will continue to follow advice from the Ministry of Health and Population on the developments.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and keep the sports fraternity updated as appropriate,” he said.
Malawi National Council of Sports acting executive secretary Henry Mereka said they are urging all sports associations “to take precautionary measures in view of the President’s declaration and suspend all their activities until government advises otherwise”.
He said: “Similarly, we will suspend all international travel by our respective recognised sports bodies for various sports related engagements until the situation with the outbreak is normalised.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu confirmed the postponement of all football activities.
“The State President’s statement is very clear and we will comply by suspending all football matches.
“We are not even considering hosting matches behind closed doors. Consequently, the kick off of the Super League has been suspended.
“We must exercise due diligence and we will comply with government 100 percent,” he said.
The FAM president said to that effect, they have already discussed and agreed to suspend the Super League.
Super League of Malawi (Sulom) president Tiya Somba Banda also confirmed the development.
Sulom had lined up nine matches in the first week in which champions Nyasa Big Bullets were supposed to start their title defence campaign against Blue Eagles at Kamuzu Stadium this afternoon.
Other high-profile matches pitted Be Forward Wanderers against Red Lions, Civil Service United against Silver Strikers tomorrow.
While welcoming the suspension of matches in view of the situation, Ntopwa FC owner Isaac Jomo Osman and Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga yesterday said Sulom and FAM could have handled the situation better.
Said Osman: “The move is meant to prioritise the safety of all athletes in general and citizens in particular, but we could not have reached this far had Sulom heeded calls to postpone the games.
“Now we have already spent about K800 000 on our trip to the Central Region.”
Ntopwa were scheduled to face Kamuzu Barracks in Lilongwe today before proceeding to Kasungu to meet TN Stars tomorrow.
Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique announced postponements of major sports activities, including football even if they are yet to register Covid-19 cases.
As of yesterday, the coronavirus death toll was at 8 778 according to WHO while infections were estimated to be over 200 000.