Sports Minister Amina says global championship will be held behind closed doors
The World Under-20 championship slated for August 17 to 22 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani will be a spectator-free event.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said yesterday that the move was a cautionary measure which organisers had borrowed from the Tokyo Olympics Games which, too, will be held in the absence of spectators as from next Friday.
With Kenya being one of the countries that are yet to vaccinate over 50 per cent of its population, Amina stated that it would be unreasonable and unsafe to have fans in the stadium.
“There will be no spectators unless the situation changes dramatically for the better,”confirmed Amina who said the final decision is pegged on a greenlight from World Athletics.
She added: “It is regrettable that we are delivering the Championships in a very limited format.
Factoring in that we are also facing the spread of coronavirus, such decisions must be made.”
While assuring that the country was ready to welcome more than 120 countries to Nairobi for the global track and field event, she said that plans were underway to ensure huge screens are set up in the capital as well as other parts of the country so that fans can follow the proceedings as they happen.
“We are more than ready for the World Under-20 Athletics Championships and as I have been saying,this will give us an advantage because it has opened more opportunities for us to host major events in future,” Amina shared her optimism about the age group competition that has already been delayed for a 12-month period after covid-19 pandemic exploded worldwide prior to when they were first scheduled to be held in July 2020.
She was speaking yesterday after a facility inspection at the Kenyatta University where engineers from Spanish-based Mondo Track and Field last week laid a new synthetic track.
Amina said that despite the fact that the athletes’ village might be moved from the institution, the facility will still be regarded as one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy projects that started immediately after the World Under 18 Championships that Kenya hosted in 2018.
“We are very happy with the project which is almost complete. The synthetic track was designated as a warm-up area for athletes competing at the junior event, which will be held at Kasarani.
With changes having been made and the village moved, this should be viewed as a legacy from the President to the Institution,” said Amina who was accompanied by Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jack Tuwei, Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor Paul Wainaina and Florence Gitau, the Drector Sports and Games at the institution.
While the hand over will have to wait until after marking and cleaning of the track has been done, Amina said the track had changed the dynamics for sports in the country.
“We shall leave this institution with three big projects completed; the bridge, borehole and the synthetic track all done to great standards,” said Amina.
With the Africa University Games happening at the institution next year, Amina was put to task as to whether the six lane track is standard.
“Discussions are underway so see that the two lanes are added so that it can meet the threshold,” she assured.
Meanwhile AK boss, Tuwei who is also the Local Organising Committee LOC chairman says all the necessary things have been finalised ahead of next month’s Championships on the day the junior team commenced bubble training camp.
“As you know, bubble camps are now a requirement for the major events. With the teams leaving for Tokyo Games, we saw it fit that the juniors take over so that we can prepare them properly for the junior Championships,” intimated Tuwei.