Several governments are scrambling to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, advising against public gatherings and against shaking hands to minimise risks of contamination.
It is upon this background that the Uganda-France Friendship week celebrations have been called off; meaning Ugandans will have to wait to watch African football legends such as Didier Drogba, Nwanko Kanu, Yaya Toure, and Samuel Eto'o among others against their Ugandan counterparts.
The match that was scheduled for Namboole on March 22 has now been pushed to latest July as organisers monitor the pandemic.
Addressing a press conference attended by the different partners and sponsors of the week's activities, France Ambassador to Uganda Jules-Armand Aniambossou said because of the spread of the coronavirus, they had to be very careful and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines regarding control of the spread of the virus.
"We visited the places were planning to organise the different but following the risk assessment from the ministry we were told we could not organise the events," Aniambossou said.
MTN Brand and Communication Manager Martin Ssebuliba (right) addresses the press and sponsors of the France-Uganda Friendship Week flanked by Ministry of Health epidemiologist Bernard Lubwama (2nd right) Ambassador of France to Uganda Jules-Armand Aniambossou (2nd left) and UOC president William Blick at the French embassy, March 16 2020. PHOTO: Michael Nsubuga
"To organise successful celebrations we need to work with the Ugandans and going by the mood in France currently we cannot go on and we have to respect all the guidelines, the reason we had to postpone and plan for something bigger with our sponsors in the coming months,"
Uganda Olympic Committee president William Blick, the co-organisers of the event said the current situation going on around the world regarding the coronavirus had caused the postponement.
"In solidarity with the whole world and the people of France in particular we believe for now, the wise thing is to postpone and re-evaluate. There are a number of options available in July and November where can do this even in a bigger way," Blick said.
He said on Friday there will be a small event of handing over a court at one of the schools as part of the activities of the celebrations.
Bernard Lubwama an epidemiologist at the Ministry of Health said they had to take the tough decision of canceling the event after the risk assessment but they would be available in the future to offer support with their human resource.
Martin Ssebuliba representing MTN said they will instead continue driving awareness of the preventive measures that have been put in place by the ministry of health and the World Health Organisation.
"It is sad that the most advertised events of the celebrations; the football match and Kassav band is off the table. It is not the end of the world; I believe life is bigger than the money that we were looking at, but we hope to have these activities in future," Balaam Barugahara the event's promoter said.
All the sponsors of the event are still committed to supporting the event, where and when it will happen.