Afcon organisers decree only vaccinated fans with negative tests can watch games

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African football chiefs on Friday unveiled rules allowing only fully vaccinated fans showing a recent negative coronavirus test into stadiums during next month’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

The 24-team biennial event was scheduled for 2021 but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It will start on 9 January with an opening ceremony and match between hosts Cameroon and Burkina Faso at the Stade Omnisport Paul Biya in Olembé.

Over the following month another 51 games will be played at the six venues throughout the country.

“The global pandemic of Covid-19 and its various variants requires that we take appropriate and adequate measures to contain the spread of this disease,” said a joint statement from the Cameroon authorities and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) which organises the tournament.

Tournament

The African continent’s most prestigious national team competition was thrown into question on Wednesday when the European Club Association said players from some of the leading European outfits might not be released due to the lack of clear health guidelines.

CAF - which is based in Cairo - dispatched its general-secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba to Cameroon to ensure a coherent plan emerged to allay the ECA’s fears and offset a potential loss of stars such as Egypt’s Mo Salah and Senegal’s Sadio Mané and Edouard Mendy.

Spectators will only access the stadiums in Garoua, Bafoussam, Douala, Limbé and Yaoundé if they can show proof of their anti-coronavirus vaccination jabs and a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old or a negative antigenic RDT which is less than 24 hours old.

Plan

“The African Cup of Nations can and must encourage the rigorous adherence of participants and supporters to the set of barrier measures known and developed to fight against the viruses,” added the joint statement.

Organisers said stewards would patrol the grounds to ensure that fans observed social distancing and wore masks correctly.

“Its organisation must obviously avoid that the Cup of Nations constitutes in itself an additional danger for the population residing in Cameroon as well as for the participants and spectators coming from elsewhere,” added the statement.

Algeria begin the defence of their title on 11 January with their Group E match against Sierre Leone at the Japoma Stadium in Douala.

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