President Weah: “The Future of Sports in Africa After COVID-19 Pandemic Is Bleak and Problematic”

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“It is therefore my considered opinion that the future of sports in Africa after the Covid-19 pandemic is bleak and problematic, and is not guaranteed to recover even to pre-Covid-19 levels for many years to come”. Liberian Leaders, stated.

“I am not aware of any provisions being made for some of these funds to be set aside or earmarked for the support of sport programs, which are an important part of the socio-economic fabric of our various societies”, President Weah stressed.

He indicated further that without doubt, sports have been an important unifying factor in maintaining social cohesion, youth development, and peace in our respective countries.

Sports have not only provided an outlet for recreation and the reduction of social tensions for people of all ages and from all walks of life, but it has also been an inspiration for many young people who see sports as a pathway to success and to the achievement of their dreams. I am sure that you may remember that I chose that pathway, and, as they say, the rest is history.

The former World Best Player was also quick to highlight that pre-Covid-19, almost all of the sports programs in Africa have been historically under-supported financially. Low investment has left them in a very fragile state of development, depending mostly on sponsorships from private businesses or individuals for their continued existence. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the precautionary measures being put in place by our respective governments to contain the spread of Covid-19, such as lockdowns, social distancing, quarantines, and curfews, will have a devastating and drastic negative impact on sports in general. The lifeblood of sports consists mainly of attendance fees and sponsorships, and where these no longer exist, many clubs will collapse, and many leagues will close permanently. On the African continent, where effective scouting feeds our young talented players to the bigger international leagues, these opportunities will no longer exist.

He stated further that the future of sports in Africa Post COVID-19 could not be more relevant and timely in these difficult times, when the entire world is undergoing the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic. As we are all aware, there have been millions of people who have contracted the disease in the past few months. Sadly, many hundreds of thousands have now lost their lives, and I want to use this occasion, on behalf of the People of Liberia, and in my own name, to extend our deepest sympathy to the families who have lost their relatives, friends, and loved ones to this deadly disease” Liberian Leader, George Weah noted.

Additionally, many of the world’s largest and most prosperous economies have been shattered by the effects of Covid-19, causing business failures, massive unemployment, and a reduction of productivity and growth. We have also observed that many of their health systems, considered to be sophisticated and robust, are struggling to cope with the unprecedented medical challenges posed by the disease.

Addressing a continental and global platform in observance of Africa Day, President stated that  even as we highlight the damage that Covid-19 is causing in most of the developed world, we realize that all countries of the world are now affected in some way by the pandemic. With our relatively fragile economies and weak public health ecosystems, we in the developing world are particularly vulnerable. In Africa, although the number of infected persons and deaths is relatively low when compared to many other continents, the fact remains that the negative impact of even a small downturn in our economies is magnified and aggravated, and our inadequate health systems can be easily overrun by even a slight increase in our numbers.

In response to this global threat, the Liberian  leader pointed out that many governments, international institutions, and companies from the private sector have taken various actions to address the negative socio-economic impact of the virus on our populace. Various special Funds have been established to provide loans and grants to businesses, debt relief, salary payments to the unemployed, food for citizens, purchase of medical equipment and PPE’s, construction of new emergency hospitals, and many other measures.

Followed by stakeholders and other leaders, Dr. Weah spoke Monday, May 25, 2020 at the Africa Sports Ventures group and UNESCO online sports conference on the future of sports in Africa post COVID-19 via zoom.