Lesotho: Taekwondo, Gymnastics Dropped From Ausc Region 5 Games Programme

TAEKWONDO and gymnastics have been scrapped from the African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games programme.

Instead, karate and table tennis have been incorporated into the new programme.

The next edition of the games was set to be held in Windhoek, Namibia, in December this year.

However, they have now been moved to 2-11 May 2025, still in Namibia.

AUSC Region 5 is the sports arm of the African Union.

The primary aim of the AUSC Region 5 is to use sports to achieve peace, integration, and unity in Southern Africa.

The Region 5 Council of Ministers moved the games to next year after making several pertinent observations.

The conscious decision, the council said, was made upon realising that the Namibian government, could not conclude required administrative processes leading to the signing of the Games Protocol Agreement in time.

Furthermore, the AUSC Region 5 said the year 2024 had been heavily loaded with other key continental and international events.

Key among them being the football African Cup of Nations held in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire from January to February 2024, as well as the 13th edition of the African Games held in Accra, Ghana, in March 2024.

This is in addition to the Olympic Games scheduled from July to August 2024 in Paris, France.

Between August and September, Paris will also be the host for the 2024 Paralympics.

Despite the postponement of the games, the AUSC recently announced sporting codes to feature in the next games.

The list saw taekwondo and gymnastics being scrapped from the games programme.

This is despite the two sporting codes featuring in previous editions. They have been replaced with karate and table tennis.

Region 5 chief executive officer, Stanley Mutoya, confirmed the changes to the Lesotho Times over the weekend.

"Karate and table tennis have become the new sporting codes on the programme, replacing gymnastics and taekwondo, which will not be part of the games' 2024 edition," Mutoya said.

Asked why gymnastics and taekwondo were dropped, Mutoya said that there were very few entrants in gymnastics in the past games.

Regarding taekwondo, he said they are currently focused on capacitating the sporting code with some developmental programmes before allowing it back into the programme.

"We have had fewer entrants in gymnastics in the past games. For taekwondo, we need to assist them with more development programmes for now," Mutoya said.

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Association of Gymnastics (LAG) secretary general, Mpho Phakisi, said removal of their sport in the programme was a huge blow to them. This is because the AUSC Games, are one of the platforms where their players gain international exposure.

"This is very sad news to us. The games were giving our young athletes a chance to gain some international exposure," Phakisi said.

She added that not being part of the AUSC Games was going to be demoralising to their young athletes, who also want to one day represent their country at that level.

Despite the sad news, she said they will not rest. Instead, they will continue taking their athletes to participate at tournaments in other countries.

"We will now depend on going for friendly games outside the country and tournaments held by other countries, so that we keep improving our athletes' competitiveness on the international stage," she said.

Confirmed sporting codes for the next edition of the AUSC Region 5 Games are athletics (including athletics for the visually impaired categories), basketball (including 3x3), boxing, football, judo, karate, netball, swimming, table tennis, lawn tennis and volleyball (including beach volleyball).

As sports codes on the official games programme have now been finalised, Mutoya said all hands will now be on deck to deliver memorable games in Namibia.

He added that the region expects all role players to lend support to Namibia to host successful games.

AUSC Region 5 Youth Games draw athletes from all ten regional member countries namely Angola, Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

For the first time in history, Lesotho hosted the games on 3-12 December 2021 in Maseru. In 2022 the games were held in Lilongwe Malawi from 2-11 December.

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