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Postponement of World Under-20s in good spirit

Thursday March 26 2020

World Athletics Under-20 Championships security director Joseph Kiget (left) in deep discussion with Kenya Airports Authority Coast Regional Manager Peter Wafula at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa last week. PHOTO | POOL |

World Athletics Under-20 Championships security director Joseph Kiget (left) in deep discussion with Kenya Airports Authority Coast Regional Manager Peter Wafula at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa last week. PHOTO | POOL |  

BARNABA KORIR
By BARNABA KORIR
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There is definitely no light at the end of the tunnel, and my heart bleeds for the sportsmen and women whose calendar has been thrown into a spin.

Of course, the postponement of sports events, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the World Under-20 Championships, did not come as a surprise considering the threat of the coronavirus which continues to terrorise most countries across the world.

The truth is that we are not able to plan anything considering that we do not know when the chaos will end. By virtue of being the Athletics Kenya (AK) youth chairman, the World Under-20 Championships, earlier scheduled for July in Nairobi, were very close to my heart. The event was critical to Kenya as its first African hosts.

Besides, this is a bridge for upcoming runners, hoping to make a leap into the senior category and global stardom. As much as we are talking about postponement, we do not know until when. We can’t also talk about next year because 2021 will be jammed with other events.

We have been told Olympics will be held next year and the World Athletics Championships is also scheduled for the same year in Eugene, Oregon.

Our athletes are off training and for us to talk about an event, our runners must be in shape. Our experience has taught us that with such calamities, like coronavirus, there are three phases. First, we have the problem itself, how to deal with it and the recovery. We are, therefore, looking at the next five months or so for things to clear completely if the China experience is anything to go by.

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Our athletes will then need at least three months to prepare and this means we are looking at next year around this time if we are to host the under-20.

Basically, it is going to be a challenge for athletes and things do not generally look good. For now, we can only stick to the government’s guidelines and hope that things will clear sooner than later. For us at AK, it’s like starting all over again considering the progress we had made.

But we shouldn’t get tired because life has to continue anyway. However, I hope after the skies are clear, the sports fraternity will get together in a forum to chart the way forward.

Korir is Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi branch chairman. [email protected]

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