The Africa/Oceania Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Qualifier earlier slated for 13 – 15 March, in El Jadida, Morocco, has been postponed indefinitely by organizers over fears of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).
COVID-19 has claimed over 3,000 lives globally, with more than 95,000 people affected in around 80 countries.
A statement from the sport’s governing body, the United World Wrestling said: “The Moroccan authorities have decided to take measures against the spread of COVID-19 and not authorize the holding of international sport events until the end of March.
“The African & Oceania OG Qualifier is therefore postponed until a new date that will be communicated on a later stage.”
The statement added that the tournament “may now take place in the course of April or May”.
The postponement of the event comes as a disappointment for Team Nigeria wrestlers, who have been camping in Yenagoa in preparation for the qualifier.
Reacting to the development, president of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Hon. Daniel Igali said: “The postponement of the tournament is only delaying the qualification of our athletes for the Olympics. And I am sure that very soon, the situation will be resolved. However, the organisers are taking precaution to ensure the safety of the participants.
“I also thank the Sports Minister Mr. Sunday Dare and the sports ministry for their immense support since we opened camp about two weeks ago.”
With only Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) securing qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Games at the moment, the NWF is hopeful that, at least, seven more athletes will join her in Japan.
The athletes and their coaches, who were initially expected to travel out of Nigeria on Wednesday, 11 March, have been decamped for now pending the announcement of a new date for the tournament.