NAIROBI, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Rugby Africa has announced the postponement of the Barthes Cup, the continent's junior men's tournament, due to concerns over coronavirus.
The tournament, which was due to start in Nairobi from April 19-26 has been pushed back after Kenya's government decree to ban all meetings, conferences and events of international nature in the country in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
Khaled Babbou, President Rugby Africa, said they need to take every precaution to protect players and support the fight against the coronavirus.
"The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kenya has issued an update on COVID-19 on the 6th of March. Among other points, it states 'The Government has, with immediate effect banned all meetings, conferences and events of international nature in Kenya.'
"The tournament is not cancelled, but only postponed to a later date, which we will communicate in due time. We thank Kenyans for their tremendous support," Babbou said on Tuesday.
The Barthes Cup is the only junior tournament in Africa and brings together the top eight ranked nations and is eligible to players who are under 20 years of age.
Kenya Rugby Union Chairman Oduor Gangla said they have to take safety and welfare of the participants.
"We agree with Rugby Africa and the Kenyan authorities in their protective measures and therefore fully support the decision to postpone the Barthes Cup tournament," Gangla said.
Eight countries have been cleared to compete in the tournament including hosts Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, Madagascar, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Cote d'Ivoire and Zambia.
Kenya won the bid to host the Africa Junior Rugby competition for the next three editions. Guedel N'Diaye, the Rugby Africa head of competitions said in February that Kenya will host the elementary competition for three-season starting 2020 to 2022.
Africa has been highlighted as a region where rugby is growing fast.
Kenya as a host has been seeded top and will launch its campaign in Group A together with Madagascar, Tunisia and Zambia. Pool B has Champions Namibia, Senegal, Zimbabwe and Cote d'Ivoire.