The Eritrea cycling team has been excluded from the Tour of Rwanda race because its members have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Eritrea, a country in the Horn of Africa region, is the only one of the African Union's 55 member states that's yet to vaccinate any of its population.
Rwanda Cycling Federation president Abdallah Murenzi said it was “a requirement” for next month's race that all competitors are fully vaccinated.
"The cyclists from Eritrea said they cannot meet this condition,” Murenzi said.
Five cyclists from Eritrea were expected to compete. Eritrean cyclists won the race in 2019 and 2020.
Rwanda has strict rules in place to fight the pandemic. Authorities have ordered public sector workers to get vaccinated or resign from their jobs and the government said last week that people must be fully vaccinated to access public spaces and attend public events.
Cycling is highly popular in Rwanda and it has been chosen to host the 2025 Road World Championships, the first African nation to be awarded the event. - IGNATIUS SSUUNA, ASSOCIATED PRESS/THE KANSAS CITY STAR