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Coronavirus: Effects so far on Kenyan sport

Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga who is based in Japan is already practicing preventive measures to ensure he remains safe from teh Coronavirus. PHOTO/@OgadaOlunga/Twitter

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 13 – While the global sporting world has been thrown into disarray following the continued spread of the coronavirus, Kenyan sport hasn’t been spared either especially after the first case was confirmed in the country on Friday morning.

Kenya is set to host the World Athletics Continental Tour (May 2) and the World Under-20 Championships (July 7-12) and everyone is now hoping the virus will be contained in time for these two historic events.

Here is a run-down of how Kenyan sports has been affected so far, leading to either cancellations or postponements.

-Magical Kenya Open

Greg Snow in last year’s Magical Kenya Open

The Magical Kenya Open, a European Tour tournament, was the first to feel the brunt of the virus. The tournament had been scheduled to start yesterday (Thursday 12th March) running through the rest of the weekend but was called off.

This was after the government sent out a directive banning any events that included 15 or more foreigners, a bid to curb the ‘Importation’ of the virus. A new date is yet to be set.

-AFCON qualifier off, all football to be suspended

The back-to-back 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier pitting Kenya and Comoros will not take place on March 25 and 29 after Football Kenya Federation (FKF) wrote to CAF asking for the postponement after a government directive that barred international events.

This was also informed by the Ministry of Sports decision not to allow any teams to travel out of the country.

On Friday, the Federation announced it was halting all football activity from Monday March 16 to the first week of April while the FKF Cup, National Super League and Women Premier League matches would go on but behind closed doors.

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-Beach volleyball teams miss out on Olympic qualifiers

Team kenya’s Yvonne Wavinya and Maureen Wekesa training in Mombasa ahead of the Olympic qualifiers.

The men’s and women’s beach volleyball teams did not travel to Cape Verde and Nigeria for the Olympic qualifiers owing to the government directive on teams being permitted to travel out.

The teams were already in residential training in Mombasa, but the spread of the virus, especially a confirmed case in Nigeria meant they would not be travelling.

-Judo teams fail to travel for qualifiers

Just like their beach volleyball colleagues, the national judo team failed to travel to Senegal where they were scheduled to take part in Olympic qualifiers.

-African Cross Country, World Half Marathon, World Indoor Championships off

Kenyan athletes have been known to dominate world events and the news that the three championships (World Half Marathon, World Indoor Championships and Africa Cross Country Championships) were called off hit harder home.

Geoffrey Kamworor was set to defend his title at the World Half Championships and was also confirmed for the Boston Marathon. He was hit with a double blow.

This forced Athletics Kenya to suspend issuance of license to athletes for international races.

-Barthes Cup, Rugby Series challenger postponed, KRU halts entire season

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National Rugby 20 team Chipu celebrating after being crowned champions of the Barthes Cup. Photo/ARIGI

The rugby world started feeling the brunt when the Barthes Cup which was set to be staged in Nairobi next month was called off by Rugby Afrique. Kenya was scheduled to host the event for a second season running with the hope of defending the crown.

On Friday, World Rugby announced he women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series tournament that was due to be played in Stellenbosch on 28-29 March had been called off due to the virus.

At the same time, the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) has announced that the 2019/20 season has been called off until further notice because of the virus. The Kenya Cup, Championship and Eric Shirley Shield matches were in the play-off stage.

Volleyball, Hockey leagues halted

The Kenya Hockey Union and Kenya Volleyball Federation followed suit in announcing that their league matches will be halted until further notice. United States International University -Africa (USIU-A) had already announced it was pulling out its teams from all sporting events.

USIU-A has teams playing in the men’s and women’s hockey leagues as well as the basketball leagues, though the latter is yet to tip off for the new season.

-Chapa Dimba na Safaricom halted

The Chapa Dimba na Safaricom youth tournament has also been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government’s directive to cancel all public gatherings, meetings and events.

The tournament which would have been headed to Mumias for the Western Region finals in a fortnight will hence not take place. Also in doubt is whether an All-Star team will be sent to Spain for a 20-day training camp in May.

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