IHF President Dr Hassan Moustafa wrote the letter in which he defends reasons for playing upcoming World Championship 2021 in Egypt.
The IHF Men’s World Championship is not simply an event, it is a globally significant major sporting celebration. It provides the biggest stage for the sport of handball and, therefore, it is in the best interest of all stakeholders to organise the 27th IHF Men’s World Championship in Egypt in January 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been well beyond the expectations of anyone and for a long time, handball, next to many other sports, came to a halt. However, despite the events of this past year, the world has started to learn to live alongside the virus, and the sports industry is active again. The International Handball Federation (IHF), as well, adapted daily life around the virus.
In general, it should be emphasised again that the financial situation of the IHF is healthy and financial revenue is the last reason for this competition to be held. The IHF is not acting this way in its role as a superior decision-making body but for everyone who loves the sport and for the players in particular, who aim to fulfil their dreams on the podium.
The core of handball, the athletes, have been deprived of playing the sport they love for several months. It has been a physically and mentally challenging time as their aim must be to keep on training, to stay healthy.
Professional players live on practicing handball. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to keep the sport going – not only in the national leagues but also on a global level. Not holding the World Championship would mean an enormous loss of visibility for them.
The main income of coaches is handball as well – they should be on court with their team. Referees should be active but have not been officiating for almost a year. National Federation activities came to a stop; Egypt 2021 provides an opportunity to relaunch the activities and refuel the energy.
For the entire handball industry, it is of major importance to stage the 27th IHF Men’s World Championship. From TV to sponsors to different audiences, each stakeholder benefits from the organisation of the event in a different way.
The ‘bubble concept’ outlined in the Egypt 2021 COVID-19 Medical Precaution Plan is one which is being used to great effect in global sports as the industry learns to live alongside COVID-19. This will be monitored relentlessly on-site at Egypt 2021 and in-person by the Egyptian Government Health Ministry in collaboration with two World Health Organization (WHO) representatives – all under full supervision from the IHF and the Egyptian government.
An update of the Egypt 2021 COVID-19 Medical Precaution Plan as well as a second, competition-related, plan will follow soon as we are constantly refining the conditions based on the development of the situation.
The plans have been carefully elaborated and will be a safeguard, for which the organiser is willing to bear huge costs.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Minister of Youth and Sports Dr Ashraf Sobhy both underlined their commitment to a safe championship, while a Task Force of Ministers was created recently as well to support the event. This Task Force consists of, among others, the Ministers of Antiquities and Tourism, Civil Aviation, Health and Population, Transportation, and Youth and Sports and is chaired by Prime Minister Madbouly. Furthermore, State President Abd al-Fattah as-Sisi is monitoring the situation and events. All of this is further evidence of the strength of commitment from the state.
We all need to keep a positive attitude. We need to stay united as we are stronger together. Every single step of the way, the IHF is seeking an event clean from COVID-19. However, this cannot be accomplished without good cooperation between all the championship stakeholders; starting from the players themselves, through to clubs, National Federations, the Organising Committee and the IHF.
We look forward to an event which will certainly be challenging – however, we are prepared to face the challenges COVID-19 brings along.