Cheruiyot pleads with EU to allow Kenyan athletes feature in foreign races
World 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot (pictured) is optimistic that Kenya will be among the countries that will be given go ahead to visit European Nations in the coming few weeks to enable local athletes participate in foreign races.
The reigning Diamond League winner believes the move would help local athletes to be part of the new season set to kick off next month with all the events to be held in European countries.
Cheruiyot’s remarks come days after the European Union left Kenya out of the list of 15 countries that were given a green light to visit European nations beginning July 1 as part of measures to contain the current corona virus pandemic that led to the altering of key sporting events globally.
According to Schengen News, it is only four countries from Africa that have been included in the ‘safe list’, allowing their citizens to visit Europe, these are Morocco, Algeria, Rwanda and Tunisia.
This is a blow to Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa who have large number of athletes that have been taking part in races staged in different European countries.
With the London Marathon coming up in October where reigning champion Eliud Kipchoge had confirmed his intentions to defend his title as was due to rub shoulders with rival Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, not to mention the Diamond League races and other road races in selected European cities, the restrictions spell doom to Kenyan runners.
It still remains unclear whether Kenyan athletes will be allowed to travel and take part in the Monaco Diamond League scheduled for August 14.
The organisers of the Diamond League are yet to issue a statement on the same. But Cheruiyot believes that there is time to strike a balance.
After Monaco, Stockholm (Sweden) planned for August 23 and Brussels (Belgium) on September 4 are the other Diamond League meets to be held in European soil.
Others are Rome/Naples (Italy) on September 17 and Gateshead (Great Britain) scheduled for September 26 although the dates are yet to be confirmed.
Already, Paris Meeting slated for September 6 and Prefontaine Classic are the latest events to be cancelled.
Other countries whose nationals will be allowed to enter Europe are: Australia, Canada, China, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, New Zealand, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, and Uruguay.
In March, many countries in Europe started placing cross-border restrictions due to the global spread of coronavirus.
“I am optimistic there will be good news before the new season gets underway.
I mean we have suffered alot as athletes that missing out when the new season gets underway will be devastating, “Cheruiyot who last month took part in the Maurie plant memorial 2000m virtual race that was won by the Ingebrigsten brothers told People Sport.
He added: “Speaking on behalf of many athletes, there is nothing we want more than going back to the track and competing. I remain hopeful we shall get back to our way of life soon.”
According to Diamond League organisers, the 2020 Diamond League calendar remains provisional and subject to further changes due to the ongoing global health situation and ever-changing regulations.