ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie has donated nearly $50,000 to a committee set up to fight the spread of coronavirus in his homeland.
The COVID-19 National Resource Mobilisation Committee was launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday in Ethiopia, where there are currently 21 reported cases.
“It’s not time to profit but to save lives,” said Haile. “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 canceled all over the world, so we have to be able to support our community.”
Haile donated one million Ethiopian birr ($30,213) from a range of his businesses while half a million birr (USD 15,106) came from the Great Ethiopian Run, which was founded by the two-time Olympic champion.
The Mobilisation Committee is tasked with gathering funds and materials to assist with emergency preparations to fight the pandemic in Africa’s second-most populous nation, with over 100m inhabitants.
“Such periods require the effort and contribution of each individual,” Prime Minister Abiy, who has donated a month of his own salary to the committee, stated earlier in the week.
“Our collective and concerted efforts to help one another in times of great need will be the only way we overcome.”
Gebrselassie joins other African sportsmen, like Senegalese footballer Sadio Mane, in using wealth gained from their sporting careers to help their home nations battle coronavirus.