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African football chief Patrice Motsepe confirmed Tuesday that the Africa Cup of Nations will go ahead as planned in Cameroon next month, dispelling rumours that the already delayed continental showpiece could fall victim to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"I am going to watch on the 9th of January, Cameroon and Burkina Faso," Motsepe said, referring to the opening match of the 2022 tournament.
The president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) yesterday flew to the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé amid concerns over the country’s readiness to host the tournament.
These included worries over a lack of organisation, incomplete building work and the threat of coronavirus outbreaks among the large number of players and staff set to descend on the under-resourced country in the next few weeks.
Last week the European Club Association (EAC) threatened to block players from participating in the tournament due to a lack of information about health protocols.
The CAF later said that it would be importing its own laboratory, bypassing local healthcare facilities, to test players during the tournament.
Fans will also be required to show proof of vaccination and present a negative Covid-19 test result to attend matches, officials announced Thursday.
The CAF president said the fast-spreading Omicron variant posed “an enormous challenge” for the organisers but added, “we must always identify problems and challenges, and not shy away from them.
"We have to have confidence and belief in ourselves as Africans. And we have to have confidence and belief that we can host a very successful Nations Cup in Cameroon."
Motsepe gave the green light for the event to go ahead after talks with Cameroonian president Paul Biya.
Cameroon was originally awarded the hosting of the 2019 finals but the tournament was switched to Egypt when CAF found the central African country was not ready. Cameroon was then handed the 2021 tournament, which has since been delayed by 12 months due to the pandemic.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)