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The Ugandan Olympic team while being flagged off in Kampala. Photo The Observer


One member of the first batch of Uganda's athletes' team has tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival in Japan for a one-month camp training. 

The team of nine people including three boxers, one weight lifter, and one swimmer plus coaches and officials was flagged off on Thursday by Sports minister designate Hamson Obua for their one-month spell in Japan ahead of the Olympic games in July.

However, after arrival in Japan on Saturday, one of the members tested positive for coronavirus disease and is currently being kept in Japan’s designated isolation facility while the other members of the Ugandan team traveled to Osaka, western Japan, where they will train ahead of the games.

Hidemasa Nakamura, the Tokyo 2020 Games delivery officer, while talking to reporters also made it clear that the person had been isolated. 

“I heard the person has been isolated based on regulations,” said Nakamura.

While flagging off the athletes, Beatrice Ayikoru, the chief of mission for Tokyo made it clear that all athletes had been vaccinated and tested twice before leaving. She also said they have been in isolation for two weeks. 

The team wanted to start gearing up for the games at their training camp, however, this means that their preparations suffered a setback. This comes at a time when the NCS Dr. Bernard Patrick Ogwel had told sports federations to appreciate the realities of the times and adhere to the standard operating procedures, that the national team players should be secluded from the public to prevent them from getting the virus.

This is the fourth similar COVID-19 incident to happen for a Ugandan contingent, and three Uganda national teams have been withdrawn from international competitions accordingly after members of these members tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the kick-off of the competitions.

These include the National Basketball team, Women Cricket and lately the Uganda Rugby Sevens team that was withdrawn from Olympic qualifiers in France. 

The second batch of Uganda Olympians is scheduled to travel on the 29th and 30th of this month. According to Ayikoru the team will comprise of the middle distance runners from the athletics discipline. - URN/The Observer



President Uhuru Kenyatta has sent a message of condolence to the family, friends and relatives of celebrated rugby coach Benjamin Ayimba who passed away on Friday night at a Nairobi hospital.

The President mourned the departed sportsman as a Kenyan great and an icon of rugby saying Ayimba had inspired a generation of Kenyans to take up and excel in rugby. 

“It is a sad day in the history of Kenyan sports having lost Benjamin. From his exploits on the field as as a rugby player and on the touch line as a coach, Benjamin inspired a generation of young Kenyans to take up and excel as rugby players. He was truly a national rugby icon," the President eulogised.

“As a nation, we will forever be grateful for his great contribution to Kenya’s sports especially for the many accolades he earned the country over the years," the President added.

President Kenyatta recalled the late athlete's successes in rugby saying his most outstanding memory, as a rugby fan, was in 2016 when Kenya, coached by Ayimba, lifted the World Rugby Sevens Series main cup in Singapore after beating heavyweights Fiji. 

He pointed out that the late Ayimba helped lift Kenya's rugby from national obscurity to international stardom, positioning the country on the global map as one of the world's emerging rugby nations.

“Besides earning Kenya accolades and global recognition as a rugby nation, Benjamin and his generation of players and coaches helped grow Kenya's brand abroad benefiting sectors such as tourism, hospitality and aviation," the President noted.

President Kenyatta prayed to God to give the family of the departed Kenyan hero strength and fortitude during this difficult period of mourning.

Officials attend the announcement of the the NBA-backed Basketball Africa League at the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, July 30, 2019. Play finally gets underway May 16, 2021. Photo AFP


KIGALI, RWANDA - The first game of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) tips off on Sunday in Rwanda, and fans of the sport say they hope the new league, and playing host to the games, will shine a spotlight on African players and help promote the sport in Africa.

Competition was to have begun last year but was put off in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. On Sunday, finally, Rwanda's Patriots will face off against Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers at Kigali Arena, which will host all the games.

Some Rwandan basketball supporters lament that required coronavirus testing will prevent them from being able to attend the games at Kigali Arena. But many will be cheering from a safe distance.

Arnold Nkusi, 21, plays for the Rwandan military-funded APF, or Army Patriotic Front Club. A former student in the U.S. state of Texas, he said he thinks the BAL is "a great step for African teams. They can show how they are good in their talent."

"In the past years," he said, "we haven’t had time to, like, to show our potential and everything. So now it is a good opportunity, especially that it is happening in Rwanda. Now our players will be looked at so we can have scouts and agents coming in to watch our players play and have opportunities to play abroad.”

The BAL is a partnership of the U.S. National Basketball Association and the Geneva-based International Basketball Federation (FIBA). It's the NBA's first effort to launch a league outside North America.

Rwandan basketball emerged only in the last couple decades, but the national team has qualified a few times for the FIBA AfroBasket, another continent-wide tournament. 

Stratton Ahimana, president of Rwanda’s Association of Basketball Umpires and a member of the technical committee in Rwanda’s Basketball Federation, said the umpires he leads needed to attend to see the level of officiating at this tournament so they can share knowledge and experience with their colleagues.

Cliff Owor, head coach of the APF club, said Rwandan and other African teams that compete in this league will benefit a lot, especially coaches and players who will gain experience through these games.  Although it comes amid COVID-19 and a difficult period, he said, the experience they will gain is priceless.

VOA will simulcast BAL games in English and French and provide play-by-play coverage in Bambara, Kinyarwanda, Wolof and Portuguese. - Alex Ngarambe, Voice of America

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