Big challenge for Kenya as World Under-20 Athletics Championships postponed
From left- Director Logistics World U20 Douglas Wakiuri, Trevor Painter UK Athletics team leader, Ibrahim Hussein Incharge Technical and Competition U20, Regina Gachora Chief Operations officer U20, Lorna Dwyer UK team and Alex Kobia Director Media and Communications World U20 during a press briefing on the preparation for the forthcoming International athletics events, World continental tour and the World Under-20 Athletics Championships at Kasarani on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]


The decision to postpone the World Under-20 Athletics Championships which was set for Nairobi in July means Kenya will suffer huge financial loss.

Barnaba Korir, the Chairman of Athletics Kenya (AK) Youth Development said the move means a big loss to the country as they have already used Sh25 million on setting up athletes camps.

“We spent a lot of money putting the athletes in camps across the country to prepare for the event. We had identified top cream athletes that would have made the team.

“But we must put humanity first and help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Let brace for tough times ahead,” he said.

Should the competition get postponed to next year, Korir said, it will lock out some of the athletes. 

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“We had identified athletes who will be 19 years by December 31, 2020. If postponed to next year, many of them will be locked out and that means we will have to start the selection process afresh,” he said.

Korir asked athletes to train moderately as they wait a decision from World Athletics.

“The postponement gives our athletes another chance to prepare well,” he said.

However apart from AK, a number of other institutions will also suffer with some hotels and otherbinstitutions having made reservations for bookings in anticipation of the visitors who were expected in the country in July.

On Tuesday, World Athletics together with the Government of Kenya and AK announced the decision to postpone the event that was set for Nairobi on July 7-12 due to the ongoing challenges posed by coronavirus.

“The current global situation would have seriously compromised the event at this time as many countries are restricting international travel, invoking necessary quarantines and advising citizens and event organisers to avoid mass gatherings,” read the statement from Local Organising Committee.

“We had to consider the health and well-being of athletes, officials and spectators in making this call. We recognise the immense preparation that have gone into the event and wanted to give certainty to the athletes as early as possible as we collectively come to terms with the global impact and threats associated with the virus.”

The directive from the World Athletics medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organisation, said the spread of the novel coronavirus is at a concerning level in many countries and all major gatherings should be reviewed without delay.

“We are working together to identify a mutually appropriate alternative date convenient for the Government of Kenya and elite competitors,” they said.

The Local Organising Committee said they will continue with the preparation as they engage on new dates which they hope to announce in the coming weeks.


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