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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of life worldwide—educational, economic, cultural, social and sporting.1 To limit the spread of COVID-19, initial containment strategies included proper mask wearing, respiratory and hand hygiene, social/physical distancing and different levels of lockdown to limit social interaction.2 While competitive sport has also been impacted by these measures, risk mitigation protocols have allowed competitions at the national, international and professional levels to resume in some countries around the world.3–5 However, additional barriers exist on the African continent to safely resume sport that may not exist elsewhere. These include cost and resource limitations to facilitate player and staff education, safe team transport, hotel and club sanitisation, regular COVID-19 PCR testing with short result turnaround times and access to vaccinations.6 7 This commentary outlines practical recommendations for a scientifically valid COVID-19 risk mitigating strategy to enhance safety for teams and spectators at African football competitions that accommodate regional challenges.
Recommendations for sports organising authorities
Design a guideline
The success of COVID-19 prevention during football competitions must involve a scientifically based risk mitigation plan that can evolve as new evidence and interventions emerge. This plan must be accepted by all stakeholders, including stadium management, National Federations, and executive committees of leagues and individual teams. A well-designed guideline on COVID-19 risk mitigation should be practical, concise and consider the following8:
Involvement of the occupational health and safety guidelines of each country to legally align with the host country’s regulations and reflect or exceed the requirements for the general public.
A specialised team to coordinate the development of protocols in each country. Ideally, this team …
Contributors MD conceived the study idea of this editorial. MD, EZM, ALDW, BY and LP wrote the first draft and suggested critical revisions and approved the final manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.