It is now official, the 2020 World Athletics U20 Championships that were to be staged by Kenya from July 7 – 12 will not go on.
World Athletics announced Tuesday that the junior event will be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to ravage the sporting world.
That announcement followed an earlier confirmation from Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympics Committee (IOC) that it had pushed the Tokyo 2020 Games, due to begin on July 24, to next year.
Athletes have been unable to train due to closed facilities and restricted access to coaches and training partners, throwing doubt on the viability of the events as the world continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“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 organizers to avoid mass gatherings.
“We had to consider the health and well-being of athletes, officials and spectators in making this call. We recognize 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,” World Athletics said in a statement.
Kenya was awarded hosting rights for the championship in July 2018 after hosting an outstanding World U18 Championships in Nairobi the year earlier, attracting record crowds and creating an exciting atmosphere for the young athletes who had gathered from around the globe.
No alternative date has been set for the event with World Athletics stating it would work to identify a ‘mutually appropriate’ timeline with the Kenyan Government of Kenya and the competitors.
2017 Local Organizing Committee CEO Mwangi Muthee says the damage will be huge for the Kenyan economy after the games were postponed.
“It terms of financial implications, the figures must be very high. Besides the government sponsorship which is in excess of KSh2 billion, there has been others sponsorships from many other partners. This are companies for example that sacrificed a big deal to have the championships take place,” said Muthee.
Last week, Athletics Kenya (AK) ordered the closure of training camps and clubs and said it was halting physical meetings for the next month, urging athletes who had traveled outside the country over the last two weeks to self-quarantine.