Nepal | July 04, 2020

Pandemic ‘coronavirus’ hits Nepali sports hard

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, March 13

Noble coronavirus has hit Nepali sports hard with authorities postponing or cancelling the national and international events.

The sports governing body in Nepal, National Sports Council duly followed government instructions in directing the national sports associations and private-sector organisers to postpone all the events that draw large number of crowds.

The joint qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup became the biggest casualty as Nepal was scheduled to host Australia and Chinese Taipei at the Dasharath Stadium this month, while Everest Premier League was the largest tournament to be postponed at a time when the participating teams were in their final phase of preparation.

The Federation of International Football Association and Asian Football Confederation imposed conditional postponement saying the games could still go ahead if both sides agreed and safety standards were met, but the All Nepal Football Association has already ruled out the possibility of hosting matches scheduled for March 23 and March 31.

The ANFA not only postponed the national team training for the qualifiers but also instructed its district bodies to put all the events on hold until further notice, although the Martyrs Memorial B Division League is underway at the ANFA Complex grounds. The decision affected the Gold Cup football tournaments due to be held in various districts.

The organisers of the mofussil tournaments have put on hold all the remaining Gold Cups, while the Aaha-Rara Gold Cup will conclude in Pokhara tomorrow.

The EPL suffered the most due to COVID-19 as a number of big names of world cricket were scheduled to come to Nepal for the premier Twenty20 cricket tournament. West Indies’ Chris Gayle, considered as one of the greatest batsmen ever in T20 cricket, and Dwyane Smith along with Sri Lanka’s Upul Tharanga and Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien had committed for this year’s EPL, while former Nepal national team coach Pubudu Dassanayake had already joined Bhairahawa Gladiators in their training camp and talent hunt programme.

The Nepali athletes were under training for the Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers but the world governing bodies have already postponed the tournaments of taekwondo, karate, judo and weightlifting leaving the players with uncertainty over the new dates. The Nepali Army has ordered all the Tribhuvan Army Club athletes to stay inside the barracks and not to participate in any training camp and tournament, barring the ongoing events.

Nepal Taekwondo Association on Thursday postponed the third Mount Everest Open International Taekwondo Championship slated for April 1-5 in Pokhara after ‘several participating countries showed concerns over COVID-19 outbreak’. Along with Olympic qualifiers, the World Taekwondo also postponed Asian Championships and Asian Para-taekwondo Championships.

Nepal national cricket team returned home from Thailand last Saturday after taking part in the ACC Eastern Region Twenty20, while the cricketers are scheduled to travel to Namibia for the One Day International Tri-nation series under the Cricket World Cup League2 also involving Scotland from April 20-27.

The Cricket Association of Nepal is yet to take official decision over conducting the camp for the event.

A version of this article appears in print on March 14, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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