Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe National Youth and Paralympic Games set for Gweru next week are likely to be postponed due to a typhoid outbreak that has so far claimed five lives in the Midlands capital.
More than 350 residents that contracted the water-borne disease have so far been treated and Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa has visited Gweru to assess the situation.
“We are waiting for a government proclamation, but we have agreed that the situation on the ground warrants the postponement of these games to a later date. It’s a grave situation and we are in constant liaison with the relevant departments like the Ministry of Health and Child Care as well as the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation,” said Sports and Recreation Commission acting director-general, Joseph Muchechetere.
More than 7 500 athletes and officials were expected to converge in Gweru for the games that start on August 15 and run up to the end of the month.
Muchechetere said all participating provinces had been informed to wait for a final position from the government.
“We haven’t received any official communication from government, but we are preparing to postpone the games as the situation is still critical and spreading. We will sit down with the relevant stakeholders to see when we can slot the games this year bearing in mind that schools and tertiary institutions will soon be opening. We hope to get a much clearer position by tomorrow. As of now it’s still 50/50 in terms of whether we will have the games or not,” said Muchechetere.
He said if the games are postponed, they were hopeful of holding them this year, “but at a time that is conducive to everyone”.
This year’s Youth Games were also going to see a number of athletes being chosen to represent the country at the African Union Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games that are pencilled in for Gaborone, Botswana, in December.
“We are really concerned as organisers and we don’t want to put our athletes at risk,” said Muchechetere.