CAF mandates COVID-19 vaccination for fans attending 2021 AFCON games

FILE PHOTO: The Africa Cup of Nations trophy pictured ahead of the draw for the 2017 AFCON qualifiers in Cairo. /Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: The Africa Cup of Nations trophy pictured ahead of the draw for the 2017 AFCON qualifiers in Cairo. /Getty Images

Football fans will have to show proof of full vaccination and also provide negative PCR test results taken within 72 hours before they can be allowed into stadiums at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon.

The directive was issued by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), which affirmed that the tournament will go on as planned from January 9.

CAF also noted that it plans to use an independent, internationally recognized laboratory to test the national-team players and their delegations participating in the tournament.

The confirmation on AFCON being staged came as fear was building regarding the possible postponement of the continental tournament due to the recent continental spike in COVID-19 infections and the emergence of the new Omicron strain.

Earlier this week, the European Clubs Association (ECA) threatened to block players from representing their countries at the tournament, with concerns over the rise in Omicron cases and travel restrictions put in place by government authorities.

“The AFCON can and must encourage participants and fans to protect themselves and others by following all the steps that currently work to stop the spread of COVID-19, such as washing and disinfecting hands, physical distancing, wearing masks properly and vaccination,” CAF said in a media release.

24 teams have already qualified for the tournament, with the first game set to be played at Olembe Stadium on January 9 as the host country takes on Burkina Faso.

The defending champions, Algeria, will play two days later against Sierra Leone.