NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 5 – Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed is confident that the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) will be dealt with soon and will not deter preparations and possible hosting of the World Athletics Continental Tour as well as the World Under-20 Championships to be staged in Nairobi in May and July.
Several sporting events worldwide have been either cancelled or ordered to be played or hosted behind closed doors to curtail the spread of the virus, but Amina believes neither the World Under-20 or the Continental Tour will be affected.
“Of course we are cognizant of the happenings around us, but we have a fantastic team in place. There is a multi-agency team led by the Ministry of Health with the Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and they are doing an amazing job to put in measures,” Amina told Capital Sports.
She added; “We are really hopeful that we will manage to hold all the events scheduled for this year. Of course our concern is measured and we are also part of the global effort to ensure everything is handled in a humane way.”
“We are not worried at the moment but we are just working to ensure everything we need as far as preparedness is in place and we are ready for any eventuality. We are constantly in communication with World Health Organization through the Ministry of Health. We are also in contact with World Athletics and they remain re-assured all events scheduled for this year will go on.”
The spread of the virus has send shockwaves across the sporting world with games in Italy being played behind closed doors while as close as Tanzania, players in the top-flight football league have been asked not to shake hands before matches.
But, Amina says Kenya is looking at all factors and is hopeful all will go down well as they prepare to host two major events on the athletics calendar.
Meanwhile, the CS says all plans are in place for the two events and notes the Kasarani Stadium will be closed in the next two weeks to start renovations ahead of the two events.
“We need to make sure that by May 2, we are ready because the Continental Tour will be like a dry run for us. In the next two weeks or even earlier we will close down Kasarani to begin preparations and we are working to ensure Nyayo will be ready for athletes who will still be training and also other sporting events,” Amina stated.
His sentiments were shared by Mike Rabar, the Chief Executive Officer of World Athletics Under-20 Championships.
“Everything is in place and by the end of April, we will start work on the athletes’ village. The scope of work is not really much because we had much of the infrastructure that was used for the World Under-18. It is just some minor repairs here and there as well as rehabilitating the training track and a few other facilities,” he said.
Germany and Austria have already come to Nairobi and inspected the village as well as the championship venue with the two booking their hostel space already. Officials from France are also expected to come in this week.
Rabar also disclosed that budgets for the renovation of the Kasarani Stadium have been approved and already, all equipment needed for the works are already on sea coming to Nairobi with tenders for contractors already shared in the dailies.
The two were speaking on the sidelines to Capital Sports on Wednesday as they unveiled the logo for the championship in a ceremony attended by members of the diplomatic community.
Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei, who is also the chairman of the Local Organizing Committee has implored upon the diplomats to talk to their respective capitals to ensure that every country is represented at the championship assuring that everything has been put in place to ensure their utmost comfort.
“I want to assure all of you that Kenya is a very good place to be. I want to see more countries coming in and participating and showing their athletics prowess again. This is a huge moment for not only Kenya but the African continent at large,” Tuwei noted.
The World Under-20 Championships will be held from July 7-12.