Kirsty Coventry allays cholera fears

Kirsty Coventry allays cholera fears

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SPORTS minister Kirsty Coventry has assured the safety of participants at next week’s Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup Troutbeck competition set for Nyanga in Manicaland, amid fears of an event boycott as cholera continues to ravage the country.

Over 20 000 suspected cholera cases and more than 500 confirmed and suspected deaths have been recorded across Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces since the waterborne disease was first reported in Chegutu, Mashonaland West province, in February last year.

Manicaland is one of the cholera’s hotbeds in the country, and the government this week said they have targeted the province for a vaccination campaign as the battle to contain the disease gathers momentum.

However, Coventry said Nyanga was not one of the most affected areas and says government as well as the organisers of the Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup, have put in place tight measures to keep the town as safe as possible during next Saturday’s event.

“You will see that the numbers are decreasing around the country in terms of [new] cholera cases, which is very good,” Coventry said at a Press conference yesterday.

“The steps that the Ministry of Health have put in place are working. We have had a number of donations of vaccines that are there but as far I know and I am sure we could get more specifics; I do not believe they have been any cases in Nyanga or at Troutbeck and I know that the TZ [Triathlon Zimbabwe] as well as the SRC [Sports and Recreation Commission] and my Ministry director of sport will be taking all precautions during the event.”

“The organising team is well versed in running the event. They know what to look out for, they know what to do, they will be there I believe nearly a week before so I have full confidence in them, and my team will be there to support them in any way that they may need.

“My request to international athletes is that please we would never ever put you in an environment that is not safe. The environment is very safe, and we are looking forward to a successful event,” the swimming legend said.

Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup Troutbeck event director Rick Fulton confirmed that they have recorded a decrease in the number of participants at this year’s event.

At least 30 athletes for both the elites and juniors from across the world have registered to compete at the 16th edition of the event, a huge slump from the 51 that took part in last year”s edition.

“Unfortunately, the level of numbers of elite athletes that we were hoping to attract given we are within the Olympic qualification period has not worked,” Fulton said at the same Press briefing yesterday.

Athletes set to compete are drawn from hosts Zimbabwe, Austria, Algeria, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mauritius, Netherlands, Namibia, Romania, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

Zimbabwe’s leading triathlete Andie Kuipers has confirmed her participation, and she will carry the nation’s hopes of winning the event.

The United States-based star is already in the country, having extended her stay after returning home for the festive holidays.

“I think international athletes don’t need to be worried at all because they are not even at risk,” Kuipers said.

“They get off the plane onto a bus and go to Troutbeck. There is no cholera at Troutbeck. Theirs (water) is probably some of the cleanest you will ever have in the whole of Africa. I do not think there is anything to be worried about if you are an international athlete and I have been here for the last four months and I went to Mozambique, I went to Zambia, I have been to places that are a high risk than here, but I do not have it and I think it is nothing to worry about.”

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola’s marketing portfolio activations management Zimbabwe manager Barry Otieno said the Troutbeck event does not only showcase the endurance and skill of the participants but serves as a testament to the power of teamwork and collaboration.

Coca-Cola is the title sponsor through their Bonaqua bottled water brand.



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