Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei has disclosed that the body does not know how many Kenyan athletes are stuck abroad following the closure of international borders and disruption of global travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuwei assured that AK is liaising with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also in touch with several Kenyan embassies in India, Malaysia and China among others to know the number of athletes held up. Besides not knowing the exact number, he explained that some of the affected athletes have no proper travel documents.
“While some have expired visas dating back to five years ago, there are also conditions that these countries put in place including mandatory testing before they leave to show that they are clean,” he said.
Speaking further, he revealed that those willing to return from foreign countries must take care of their air tickets. Five athletes had earlier cashed in on the free flight offer to return; two from Indian and three from Malaysia. They are Abigael Cherop, Gladi Kiptoo and Paul Eyanae from Malaysia and Daniel Kimeli and John Kipkorir from India.
“They were all quarantined and we managed to pay for their bills. Luckily enough, they didn’t have the disease. Most didn’t even have transport back home and we assisted,” said Tuwei.
Tuwei said that Kenya could be having over five athletes holed up in Far East, who need help.
“There is one in Kathmandu, India where he went for a marathon race in 2016 but never returned. I spoke to another athlete in Malaysia but we are doing the best we can to ascertain the number and help out,” he said. “We have a few in Malaysia and more than one in India.
He confessed that AK still doesn’t know if the Kenya Airways plane that arrived in the country from London on Tuesday had Kenyan athletes on board. He also revealed that one of the reason why they don’t know the exact number is that most of athletes going for minor races in Asia fail to get clearance from Athletics Kenya.
Kenya announced its first Covid-19 case on March 13 and have followed up with strict social protocol measures to contain the spread of the virus. Before the first case, Kenya had on March 3 suspended flights from northern Italy with those arriving from South Korea and Iran directed to self-quarantine for 14 days. cases.
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