By Daniel Itai, Harare, Zimbabwe
The Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZNBWCB) has said that various stakeholders are eagerly waiting on the resumption of boxing in the southern African country.
However, due to the country’s current state of national disaster, non contact sport is still prohibited but the ZNBWCB has since applied for the resumption of the sport.
“With the easing of restrictions, many stakeholders have expressed interest in seeing the return of boxing. We have therefore considered the prospects of resuming boxing activities during the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is however important to note that in boxing, safety comes first.
Moreover, the ZNBWCB has since made a proposal to the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Hon. Dr. Kirsty Coventry, detailing plans to resume boxing competitions. The proposal contains protocols to be followed during training as well as at competition venues. These protocols are in tandem with the World Health Organisation guidelines as well as health and safety measures set out by the government of Zimbabwe in order to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposal include but not limited to the option of having live boxing matches with no physical but virtual spectators as this is in line with best practice. The proposal has since been referred to a Special Task Force which was set up by the Minister to consider and give guidance plans and proposals by different sport stakeholders. I am happy to say that we are already working with a number of partners in this project who have demonstrated commitment and capacity towards the return of boxing.
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However, we are still awaiting the response to the request we submitted which will obviously determine and inform our way forward.
Anytime from now, we should be able to give a definitive and detailed calendar for the remaining part of the year. Let me however hasten to say that we can’t, as a sub-sector, afford to wait for the pandemic to end but need to adapt and find safe alternative ways of providing activity and business for all stakeholders.
In light of the foregoing, I thus cannot give specific dates or timelines for resumption of activities as it depends on the government’s position on COVID-19 mitigatory measures and the weight of protocols we have put in place.
Regardless, many stakeholders have been registering their eagerness to resume boxing activities which is an indication of their willingness as well as preparedness regarding the resumption of boxing. If we manage to get the green light, obviously we are likely to have a lot of activity in boxing before year end.
We therefore need to consider the safety of all stakeholders in general and that of boxers in particular as we try to map the way forward.
As we speak, we have had several boxers who have started receiving invitations to participate internationally. This means that we should also start considering the training of all our athletes in preparation for these international invitations.
Let me reiterate the ZNBWCB’s commitment to the growth of sport and that our plans will continue with safety as the key consideration,” said Lawrence Zimbudzana, Secretary-General of ZNBWCB.