Only fans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and have proof of a negative test in the run-up to a game can attend January’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, organisers say.
In a joint statement from Cameroon’s government and football association (Fecafoot), as well as the Confederation of African Football (Caf), the tournament has been re-confirmed as going ahead between 9 January and 6 February.
Twenty-four teams, some of whom will feature major Premier League stars like Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Senegal’s Sadio Mahrez and Riyad Mahrez of defending champions Algeria, are set to take part.
“The government has devised an elaborate special sanitary anti-Covid protocol for the Nations Cup,” the statement read.
“Supporters can only access stadiums for Nations Cup matches if they are fully vaccinated and present a negative PCR test within 72 hours or a negative lateral flow test within 24 hours.
“Health authorities will take all necessary measures to facilitate vaccinations and Covid tests on all sites during the competition.”
Player welfare questioned amid ‘serious danger’ from virus
At present just 2% of Cameroon is fully vaccinated, according to figures from Our World in Data.
The Nations Cup, which has been delayed a year because of the pandemic, will be played in five venues across Cameroon, including the capital Yaounde.
A fortnight ago the European Club Association, an independent body, expressed its “deep concerns” regarding player welfare following the emergence of the Omicron variant of coronavirus and the “worsening public health situation”.
Rumours have abounded this month that the tournament could either be postponed or change location, but Caf dismissed that notion when contacted by BBC Sport Africa last week.
On Wednesday, Caf communications official Lux September criticised media “lies” in response to one report stating the Nations Cup could be cancelled, and Thursday’s statement reiterated the intention to go ahead with the finals as planned.
“Despite the additional challenge this pandemic represents, our Nations Cup must be played,” the statement continued.
“The global Covid pandemic and its several variants demand that we take appropriate and adequate measures in order not to spread the virus, which constitutes a serious and real danger.
“Nonetheless, life must continue and we must learn to live with the virus.”