PARIS, July 23 (Xinhua) — Helio Marinho Gesta de Melo, the president of South American athletics federation ConSudAtle, said on Wednesday that their calendar halted as the region has become one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the earliest that competitions will resume on the continent will be in November or December.
“The impact in our region has been really, really hard. In Brazil, we went past 80,000 deaths, which is unbelievable. We had events planned for late March and early April and they were all canceled. Athletes couldn’t go to the track and train,” De Melo told the World Athletics website, noting that none of the 13 countries in the area federation are holding competitions.
“It’s difficult to understand how (the pandemic) is going to evolve and when we’re going to be free of that,” De Melo said. “Our calendar has been halted and we have no idea when we’ll be back,” he noted.
“We’re trying to motivate the federations so they can adapt the season to the current circumstances, to start in November and December so we can count these competitions towards the world rankings and Olympic qualification,” De Melo said.
Despite some parts of the world such as Europe and Asia were beginning to ease out of lockdown and their athletes started to participate in training and competitions since late May, most South American athletes are still locked out of their usual training facilities, except for a few high-level ones are being granted access to training facilities.
“One example is Argentina who recently began allowing their Olympic qualified athletes to train in facilities which otherwise remain closed,” De Melo said. In addition, Brazil’s Olympic Committee secured permission to send around 200 athletes including 28 from athletics to a training camp in Portugal for the next several months.
De Melo also said that situation will be easier for some athletes, such as Venezuela’s world triple jump champion Yulimar Rojas, who is based in Spain, and Olympic pole vault champion Thiago Braz, who is based in Formia, Italy. “Those athletes should be okay with their season,” he added. Enditem