Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter

WORLD Anti-Doping Agency Southern Africa chairman and respected Zimbabwean medical practitioner Nicholas Munyonga has said the Covid-19 pandemic was a rude wake up call for sporting institutions to take athletes’ welfare seriously.

He said it was high time sporting institutions invested heavily on athletes’ welfare issues instead of just being keen on getting value from the sportspersons.

“Look, natural disasters are by their nature difficult to really foretell, but that doesn’t stop institutions preparing for such worst-case scenarios like we are currently seized with.

“Imagine if Highlanders had a training complex with a hotel and a top-notch medical facility. Players would have been booked in for that quarantine, but continuing with personal training within the complex,” Munyonga told Chronicle Sport.

The former Warriors and Caps United team doctor said the coronavirus outbreak presented a serious test case to the local insurance industry, which usually excludes natural disasters and pandemics from its cover. 

“This is a rude awakening from an insurance point of view. But if you check on most insurances, life, funeral, medical and general, natural disasters and pandemics are areas of exclusion. 

“This is why big economies will always talk of bailout strategies for companies and so forth. At this moment the most important in my view is have the greater appreciation of planning for the worst in many situations, including making sure the general health of athletes is accorded outmost importance. It is always placed bottom of the pack by administration, but today health and safety has put all sporting activities on a halt. Even when it’s not a pandemic, one athlete dying on the field of play is one too many,” said Munyonga. 

The pandemic has seen the global sporting industry coming to a complete shutdown, with the latest being the Tokyo Olympics that was set to kick-off in Japan at the end of July.

The Games have now been postponed to 2021. 

The global sporting showpiece has never been postponed in its 124-year history, although it was cancelled totally in 1916,1940 and 1944 due to the World War One and two wars respectively.