KAMPALA, Uganda, March 25 – The refugee team that was scheduled to compete at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala on Sunday will not participate due to lack of travelling document.
This was confirmed by IAAF President Sebastian Coe on Saturday during the press conference ahead of the global showpiece to take place at the Kololo Grounds where the mixed relays, a new category will set the pace at 2pm East African time.
However, Coe gave some hope to the one refugee team from South Sudan, assuring them a slot in the IAAF World Relays Championship to be hosted in Bahamas in May.
“I am particularly pleased to be sharing this platform with Tegla Loupe because we were hoping to have the refugee team here but because of document difficulties it hasn’t been proved possible. We will be trying the possible we can to have that refugee team represented at the World Championship in Bahamas in a few weeks time,” Coe said.
“This is a big moment for Uganda and Africa because bringing championships here in Africa was one of my commitments when I took over at the IAAF. Taking the passion to where talent is since the continent takes Cross Country seriously,” he added in his remarks.
A disappointed Tegla Loupe who is the brain child of the refugee team is optimistic the team that has been training in Kenya will make it for the upcoming events, disclosing that he cannot blame the government of Kenya since the letter from IAAF came late.
“It’s really sad because the athletes had prepared but I hope next time our government will understand that this are the athletes who come from difficult situation and when they go to compete they will not stay in that country, they will go back to training camp but they are not losing hope there is always next time,” Loroupe, a renowned former world marathon record holder said.
“By them participating in these events, it opens doors for them. Getting documentation from the Kenyan government was difficult for them but I am glad IAAF has talked with the government of Kenya and UNHCR to ensure we compete in relays. I don’t blame the Kenyan government because the letter from IAAF came late,” she added.
The IAAF ambassador was also angry by the major countries who pulled out of the IAAF Under-18 Championship to be hosted in Nairobi, Kenya in July.
“We always participate in other countries and when they talk about insecurity it feels bad because Kenya protects its people and I am wondering why they are sabotaging our event but we don’t care because those who don’t come are the losers and we encourage other nations to come and participate,” the 43-year-old asserted.
-Alex Isaboke is reporting from Kampala-