The civil war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has had a huge impact on the sports community and has resulted in the loss of the lives of 76 athletes.
Kidane Teklehaimanot, president of the Tigray Athletics Federation, confirmed these losses to the BBC.
The war, which began in November 2020, saw Tigrayan forces clash with the Ethiopian army. This bloody conflict lasted two years, causing widespread casualties and famine-like conditions.
In November last year, peace was restored following a deal brokered by the African Union between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
Teklehaimanot said the deceased were emerging talents, actively participating in regional, national, and international events.
The majority of the victims were civilians, and some might have joined the armed resistance during the war. He mourned the loss of potential: “We lost those who had the best potential.”
The conflict not only claimed lives but also led to the destruction of sports infrastructure. An athletics centre in Maichew suffered damages estimated at over 30 million birr (R10 million).
Despite these challenges, Tigrayan athletes continue to represent Ethiopia on the global stage.
Prominent figures include reigning 10,000m world champion Gudaf Tsegay, her predecessor Letesenbet Gidey, marathon world champion Gotytom Gebreslase, 2023 World Road Running championships 5km winner Hagos Gebrhiwet, and 5km Road Race world record holder Berihu Aregawi.
Compiled by staff writer
Pictured above: The war in Tigray.
Image source: X