JOHANNESBURG – Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie has made a donation of R897 447 to help in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in his home country.
Gebrselassie made the donation to the Covid-19 National Resource Mobilisation Committee, which was launched by Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed on March 25.
On Sunday, Ethiopia had 16 people infected with coronavirus.
"It's not time to profit but to save lives," said Gebrselassie. "We need to support the government at this crucial time and support one another.”
"This is a very different time we are in. Everything's locked down and sporting events have been cancelled all over the world, so we have to be able to support our community.”
Gebrselassie, now 46, is a double Olympic gold medallist in the 10 000m and the former world record holder in the marathon which he set in 2008.
The four-time World Championship gold medallist empathised with young athletes who had been training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which has been postponed, and other major races this year.
"The athletes here in Ethiopia, especially the youngsters who have a dream (and) who want to run for the first time, you can see the heartbreak," said the former president of Ethiopia's athletics federation.
"They think there will be no chance in future - that's what some of them are asking. As a retired athlete, when I look back at my time, [if] someone told me after my long preparation that this race is cancelled, just imagine - it's really heart-breaking," he added.