Is Nairobi 2017 snub case of double standards by teams?

By Kimathi Kamau : Tuesday, June 20th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football

In less than 45 days, London will host the 16th edition of the IAAF flagship World Championships in Athletics in an event billed as the track swan song of Jamaican sprint legend, Usain Bolt and British distance running icon, Mo Farah.

Kenya, the East African distance running powerhouse that stunned the world two years ago by topping the overall charts at the Beijing 2015, is the nation they shall all come to beat when action unfolds from August 4 to 13.

Put simply, London 2017 without Kenya is akin to Brazil missing from the Fifa World Cup roster.

"I'm looking forward to the see the Kenyan team in London. They are one of the biggest attractions of the World Championships and their performance in Beijing where they topped the overall standings was brilliant," IAAF President, Lord Sebastian Coe said last December.

Barely three weeks to London 2017, Kenya will host the final edition of the IAAF World Under 18 Championships- the track and field showpiece open to athletes aged 16 and 17- that is a mini version of the senior event.

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The championships that gave the world a first glimpse of revered champions such as Bolt, Alyson Felix (USA), Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jamaica), Mercy Cherono (Kenya) and Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) among others.

It is therefore, unfortunate that seven nations, led by global superpowers Britain and USA, the overall champions from the last edition in Cali, Colombia have withdrawn from Nairobi 2017 over threats of terror attacks.

Canada, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and last week, Japan, are the other nations who have followed suit and snubbed the championships.

True, Kenya has had its fair share of deadly attacks executed by extremist organisations Al Qaeda and in recent times, Somalia's Al Shabaab.

The country is still on red alert more so in northern Kenya and the idea that terrorists could target a global event where some 135 nations will gather is not unfounded.

However, the cowards who commit such atrocities based on twisted interpretation of religion, hatred or financial greed have proven in recent months that no one is safe and have hit the heart of some of the most fortified cities in the world.

Since March, Britain, the first nation to pull out from Nairobi 2017, has seen the world rally behind them following deadly attacks at Westminster- the seat of Government (March 22), Manchester (May 22), the iconic London Bridge (June 3) and on Sunday night, a Mosque in north London.

Yet no nation, including Kenya, has declared their intention to withdraw from London 2017 weeks to the start of the event.

Britain and its powerful allies have pulled all stops to tell the world that terror will not prevail over the daily lives of their people, a message that seemed to be lost in December when UK Athletics announced their withdrawal from Nairobi 2017.

The seven countries that decided to give Shabaab terrorists mileage by making global headlines after announcing withdrawal from Nairobi 2017 should follow the example of global super powers France, Germany, Russia and China.

They have also suffered terror attacks in their territories, blamed on extremists or home-grown threats, but they will send their teams to Nairobi.

Kimathi Kamau is a sports analyst

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