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Hockey qualification uncertain during lockdown extension

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The extension of phase 3 of the state of emergency in Namibia has given the Namibian sport some breathing room, but the chances of Namibia’s national hockey teams competing in South Africa in less than two weeks seem to be diminishing by the day.

President Hage Geingob on Thursday announced a five-day extension of phase 3 from Sunday to midnight on Thursday, September 17.

He enforced the ban on contact sports, but relaxed the restriction of 10 people allowed at public gatherings to a maximum of 50, paving the way for contactless sports to resume.

Freddy Mwiya, chief driver of the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC), agreed on Saturday.

Contactless sports like tennis and cricket can be resumed, and tennis has already contacted me about an event they plan to host at Olympia next weekend. But we don’t encourage spectator presence at sporting events, he said.

Johan Muller, chief executive officer of Cricket Namibia, also confirmed that schools of cricket will start this week, with a youth tournament and a CCD Sixes tournament scheduled for Windhoek this weekend.

However, contact sport is still banned, while Namibia’s hopes of taking part in the Indoor Africa Cup in South Africa from September 25-27 seems pretty remote at the moment.

Mwiya said they will be making decisions on events later this week.

On hockey, we’ll have to wait until Wednesday when they announce the next leg, but I also plan to write to the Deputy Sports Minister about their case so she can give new directions, he said.

However, he continued to doubt whether the national teams would be allowed to travel.

Namibians are now free to travel, but I don’t think the government has spoken out on international sports. Hockey is a contact sport and they can’t even train properly so I can’t see how they could compete. But it is better for us to meet the Namibia Hockey Union after Wednesday’s announcement, he said.

The president of the Namibia Hockey Union, Marc Nel, also doubted their chances.

We have weekly contact with the NSC and now we are waiting for directions from the NSC and the Department of Sports, Youth and National Service, but I don’t think they will make any exceptions for hockey, he said on Saturday.

However, Nel said it is increasingly likely that the World Cup that will take place in Liège, Belgium in February next year, may be postponed altogether.

This morning I received an email from the Africa Hockey Federation informing all affiliated parties of the current situation. The pan-American qualifiers have also yet to be held, while the travel arrangements of those who qualified remain difficult, so it seems increasingly unlikely that the World Cup will take place next year. Belgium and the FIH (international hockey federation) will hold a meeting on Wednesday to decide whether the World Cup should be postponed to 2022, he said.

Any logical person will agree that the Olympics and other sporting events have been postponed as well, so I envision that it will be rescheduled and rescheduled, which makes more sense, Nel said.

Even as we progress to Stage 4, the South African situation still needs to be taken into account, while also not being able to quarantine our teams, so hopefully common sense will prevail and the World Cup will be postponed, he said.



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