World Athletics confirm support for Kenya ahead of U-20 Championships and Continental Tour

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has confirmed that both the World Under-20 Championships and Continental Tour will still hold in Nairobi
Britain’s Sebastian Coe addresses the media following his re-election unopposed as president of the IAAF for a second term in the Qatari capital Doha on September 25, 2019. – Coe, 62, who took over the reins during a period of turmoil in world athletics, was re-elected by unanimous vote of the 203 delegates attending the International Association of Athletics Federations’ Congress in Doha. The former Olympic and world champion middle-distance runner was named head of the governing body of world athletics in 2015 and receives his second mandate just two days before the World Athletics Championships opens in Qatar this week. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has confirmed that both the World Under-20 Championships and Continental Tour will hold in Nairobi despite being relegated to the background because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The former Olympic champion and one-time 800 metres world record holder made the assurance in separate television interviews in Kenya over the weekend. The inaugural leg of the World Athletics Continental Tour was due to hold on May 2 while the World Under-20 Championships was scheduled for July 7-12 with both holding at the Moi International Sports Centre.

He revealed that the dates for both competitions will be confirmed soon and also announced that he has raised a task force to oversee the distribution of a Sh56.3 million ($500,000) relief package for vulnerable Kenyan athletes affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fund is drawn from the International Athletics Foundation which Coes chairs. He also chairs an expert multi-regional working group to assess the applications for assistance, which will be submitted through World Athletics’ six Area Associations.

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Olympic champion and 1500m world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj, Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi (representing the WA Athletes’ Commission), WA Executive Board members Sunil Sabharwal (Audit Committee) and Abby Hoffman, WA Council members Adille Sumariwalla, Beatrice Ayikoru and Willie Banks, IAF Executive Committee member and former WA treasurer Jose Maria Odriozola and Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines President Keith Joseph are all part of the working group.

The working group has already begun meeting to establish a process for awarding and distributing grants to individual athletes and to look at other ways to raise additional monies for the fund. A large core of Kenyan athletes has been badly affected with a huge chunk of the track season as well as road races being cancelled or postponed as the world continues to grapple to contain the virus.

“We have created a welfare fund. We’re not a wealthy sport and we don’t have the size of bank accounts that football has… we are trying to create a fund so that we can help, in modest ways, our athletes, even your (Kenyan) athletes, who have suffered due to lack of competition and prize money. “The sport has been hit hard and we are managing our financial affairs very carefully.

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“I’ve appointed a working group to oversee the safe delivery of the fund which is working on the criteria.

“We need to identify those athletes most in need and we’re not here just to replace lost prize money because many athletes also have support from their federations, national Olympic committees and some have sponsors.

“We want to make sure that we are really targeting those athletes that have none of that and who are finding it really difficult to survive. It’s about survival more than it is about replacing lost prize money.”

The athletics boss also warned athletes engaged in doping that they have nowhere to hide as testing protocols were still ongoing both at national and global level despite the existence of a global lockdown due to the coronavirus.

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Coe said the history of athletics in Kenya and the passion with which the sport is followed in the country placed it in a vantage position to host major championships, including, possibly, the 2025 World Championships.

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