New dates for World U-20 may lock out some Kenyan juniors: Korir

Wednesday May 13 2020

There are fears that half of Team Kenya hopefuls for the 2020 World Under-20 Championships might be ineligible to compete if the junior event is pushed to next year.

The junior track and field event has been put off due to the coronavirus pandemic, but a new date is yet to be announced.

Athletics Kenya director in charge of youth and development, Barnaba Korir, has said the men’s team could be drastically affected, with most probables turning 20 after this year.

And Korir has implored World Athletics to consider giving athletes who will have surpassed the age limit a leeway of one year if the event is held next year.

World Athletics and the Kenya government agreed to postpone the junior event that was due to be held from July 7 to 12 at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, to a yet-to-be-disclosed date. Those eligible to participate in this year’s junior event should be 19 or younger on December 31 in the year of the competition.

“We have invested a lot in these juniors after taking them through camps in August and December last year,” Korir said. “Our junior men’s team will be greatly affected since half of our top athletes shall have turned 20 if the event is pushed to next year in the same period.”

Korir said Athletics Kenya spent an estimated Sh25 million to run 19 junior camps last year, adding that the exercise should not be in vain. “We got enormous support from schools, parents and camps from across the country,” said Korir.

Korir gave an example about the world football governing body, Fifa, which has shelved the rules for the Under-23 tournament for 2020 Olympics which has been postponed to 2021.

For example, Fifa made an amendment that "players born on or after January 1, 1997" will be able to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Games in 2021. This will now allow some 24-year-olds who want to represent their countries at that level to do so after the Games were postponed from July 24 to August 9 this year to July 23 to August 8 next year in Tokyo. However, there is no age limit for the general athletics championships.

Korir appealed to the ministry of sports to move in and cushion the young athletes with some funding after President Uhuru Kenyatta moved on Monday to provide Sh 200m from Sports Fund to Kenyan artists.

Already, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Ukur Yatani disclosed that a total of Sh7 billion will be spend from the Sports Fund to fight the novel coronavirus spread.