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Doubts arise over Kenya hosting World Athletics U20 Championships

By Amos Abuga
Thursday, March 26th, 2020
Journalists briefing at Kasarani Stadium when World Athletics officials visited to inspect the facilities ahead of the postponed World Under 20 Championships. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA

It is not clear whether Kenya will ever host the World Athletics U20 Championships which were on Tuesday night postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, a member of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) has disclosed.

While the World Athletics said they are working  to identify a mutually appropriate alternative date, there are worries that might not be the case.

“2021 already had it’s own sporting events  the world championships to be held in USA for the first time ever the event of the year.

But now we also have the Olympics, World Indoors Championships which were postponed from this year, there is the World Cross Country Championships just to name a few. 

I don’t think the World Under 20 will be a priority,” said a member of the LOC, who sought anonymity.

On Tuesday evening, a statement from World Athletics read: “It is with regret that World Athletics, together with the Government of Kenya and Athletics Kenya, have made the decision to postpone the World Athletics U20 Championships Nairobi 2020, due to the ongoing challenges posed by the spread of the novel Covid-19 internationally. “

“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.

“We had to consider the health and well-being of athletes, officials and spectators in making this call.

We recognise the immense preparations 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 Covid-19.”

The postponement of the junior Championships which were due to be held from July 7-12 at the Kasarani stadium came in the same day that it was announced that the Olympics and Paralympics Games would be moved to 2021.

LOC CEO Michael Rabar could not be reached  for comment to ascertain the kind of loss Kenya is likely to feel following the postponement of the Championships as facilities close and qualification events are cancelled all over the world would be terrible if you’ve been training your whole life for this.”

Wickenheiser added: “I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity.”

France’s 110m hurdler Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, European champion and world bronze medallist who finished fourth at the Rio Games in 2016, told AFP a postponement was the only fair solution.

“We’re not all in the same boat, there are countries which are less affected than others. In some countries athletes can train normally while we can’t even access our training ground,” he said.

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