AFCON organisers and Cameroonian government say tournament ‘must take place’

Five countries have so far qualified for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) following the conclusion of matchday four fixtures on Tuesday.

There have been concerns the Africa Cup of Nations will be postponed again, but the tournament is set to get underway next month.

Tournament organisers and the Cameroonian government on Thursday stated the Africa Cup of Nations “must take place” as they revealed only fans who are fully vaccinated can enter stadiums.

There have been increasing concerns the competition may be called off due to the emergence of the Omicron strain of COVID-19.

The tournament was due to be staged in January and February this year but was postponed due to the pandemic.

Just over three weeks before the opening ceremony at the Complexe Sportif d’Olembe, the government, Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Cameroonian Football Association (FECAFOOT) released a statement vowing that the rearranged AFCON 2021 will go ahead.

The statement said: “In Cameroon, as has been the case elsewhere, effective and reliable measures have been taken as part of a coherent and tried-and-tested approach to counter the pandemic.

“The government has set up a special health protocol to combat COVID-19 that applies to the AFCON.

“In less than 25 days, the best 24 African football teams will participate in the AFCON 2021 and special measures must be taken in connection with this important and prestigious event.

“As is widely known, organised football plays an important role in fostering integration and peace, as well as bringing people together.

“It is also a catalyst of hope, a vehicle for shared values and a conduit for joie de vivre, making it possible to transcend difficulties and see beyond our differences. Therefore, despite the additional challenge posed by the pandemic, the AFCON must take place.”

The statement also made clear that supporters will not be allowed into venues unless they are fully vaccinated, while they must also show a negative PCR test result that is no older than 72 hours or a negative antigen test result no older than 24 hours.

CAF will use an independent, internationally recognised laboratory to test players and their delegations.

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