THE destructive coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday added the 2020 African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games to its list of causalities.
The games were scheduled to run from 4 to 13 December in Maseru, Lesotho, but have been postponed to December 2021.
Malawi remains on course to host the 2022 edition. The decision to move the event was reached during Friday's AUSC Region 5 ministers of sport virtual troika.
"The spiking numbers of Covid-19 infections in almost all Region 5 member countries continue to be a cause for concern and source of anxiety in the sports movement," the organisers said in a statement.
The indaba was a follow-up assessment of the impact of the pandemic on the Region 5 games in line with the decision made in April.
The Maseru Games, which would mark the competition's ninth edition, are expected to attract just in excess of 2 000 athletes and officials competing across 11 sport codes over 14 days.
"This prompted the ministers to resolve that the current regulations of the games be revamped to provide adequate preventative measures against any epidemiological outbreaks and response protocols to any outbreaks before, during and after any future games editions," the organisers stated.
The decision is based on advice from the Region 5 Games Medical, Health and Anti-Doping Committee and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Both organs strongly recommended that the biennial games "only be held in a normal environment for the safety of participants from the hosting and travelling countries".
The Maseru Games will be scrapped should the pandemic not have abated by January 2021, with Malawi being shifted to host the 10th edition in 2024.
Hosting by member countries is on a mandatory rotational basis in alphabetical order.
The first edition of the games was held in 2004 after a false start by Lesotho and Malawi.
The games have been held consistently since 2004.
The troika was chaired by Lesotho's minister of gender, youth, sport and recreation, Likeleli Tampane.
It also included Malawi's minister of youth and sport, Ulemu Msungama, and Botswana's minister of youth empowerment, sport and culture development, Tumiso Rakgare.