A few hours before the ceremony of the draw of the AFCON 2021 scheduled for Tuesday, August 17 in Yaounde, all actors involved in the organization are busy in the final adjustments. Everything is ready.
The Yaounde Palais de Congres has closed its doors to visitors since last Thursday. Here, camera lenses and cameras are now forbidden. The infrastructure located in the heart of the capital of Cameroon has been cleaned up and does not intend to unveil its new face before Tuesday 17 August. This will be on the occasion of the ceremony of the draw for the final phase of the African Cup of Nations.
Only a few privileged people can indeed walk around the square. This is the case of the Leap Creative Studio teams. The operator selected for the material organization of this draw ceremony is making the final adjustments. Checking the technical equipment, testing the electrical equipment, lighting control, dressing the walls and the floor. On the main stage, there are three pairs of arches and a giant screen. About 180 people are mobilised on site. "Everyone is working hard to be ready in time," says Fabien Mayer, the head of Leap Creative Studio.
As for the production of the event's signal, Cameroon's national television station, CRTV, is been relentless to make the occasion a success. It is announced that an ObiVan with 14 cameras will be deployed for the ceremony. A TV set is planned inside and another outside the hall which houses 1500 seats. For the management of the National Audiovisual Office, this is a "high-risk opening match" that the channel will play before the kickoff. "This first match is the match that should not be missed," said Charles Ndongo, the director general of the public audiovisual company.
The government reassures
In the hall of the Palace, a space has been set up for the cocktail. The Cameroonian Minister of Sports, who is also the chairman of the Local Organizing Committee of the 2021 African Cup of Nations, is making several visits. Objective: to reassure himself that everything is moving at the desired pace. The man is confident. "The level of preparations, sufficiently advanced, reassures on the whole,'' says Narcisse Mouelle Kombi. All provisions are taken to make this festive ceremony, the most beautiful in the recent history of African football. If the drawing ceremony is a showcase to "magnify football and its values, celebrate Africa and Cameroon, land of wealth and cultural diversity", it should not be forgotten that it is held in a context of limitations; the health crisis.
The Cameroonian Minister of Sports warned that "because of the context of Covid-19, strong restrictive measures will be applied around the ceremony, restricting the number of participants. All guests are required to attend the event with a negative Covid-19 test, valid for 72 hours at most, on 17 August. The testing operations started last Sunday, August 15 at the Yaounde Sports Center. A forced passage for journalists, volunteers and other guests. "In the current context, it was to be expected. We have no choice," said Valery Gweha, a Cameroonian journalist.
A communication and marketing campaign is also being stepped up. Spots, messages and images of the host cities will be broadcast in the media and social networks. The Local Organizing Committee is even planning a visit to the different sites of the tournament with representatives of the qualified countries. The aim is to reassure them on the level of preparation of the host country of this second edition of the competition with 24 nations. The competition will take place from 9 January to 6 February 2022.