The World Athletics Continental Tour will resume on September 26, albeit with new guidelines to guarantee safety in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has announced.
The event, earlier scheduled for May 2, two-and-a-half months before the World Athletics U20 Championships Nairobi 2020, was suspended to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has ground sporting activities for months.
CS Amina made the announcement on Tuesday, signalling the return to training for athletes and thanked the World Athletics for allaying the fears of this year’s event not happening.
"We would like to thank World Athletics for their confidence in Kenya and in our capacity to organise a world class competition," she said.
She went on: "This announcement of the new date is significant beyond sport because it shows the international community's confidence in Kenya post-Covid-19 and offers hope for our sportsmen and women who can now look forward to a bright future."
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The CS added that planning for the event by the Local Organising Committee under her ministry will now be more intense and aggressive.
She called on companies to help the government bridge the budgetary gaps of organising the event, revealing that the State had already committed to nearly 70 per cent of the costs.
"We encourage corporate contributions towards the success of the Nairobi Continental Tour meeting in cash and in kind. The government has already committed Sh75m towards the event, which is almost 70 per cent of the required budget."
At the same time, she explained that her ministry will explore a return to normalcy for all sporting events, including those whose season’s conclusion are in doubt, in accordance with health guidelines.
On the athletes’ safety, she reinstated on the need for them to maintain requisite social distance as they resumed their training.
"Our athletes should, therefore, continue training now more intensely in view of today’s announcement, while still strictly observing public health directives on social distancing and good sanitation," she said.
According to the CS, the competition will be a fitting celebration of Kenya’s and the world’s triumph over adversity and appreciation of the sacrifices Kenyans have made to secure the country during the pandemic.
"Since the 1950s, Kenya has produced hundreds of global sports champions, especially in track and field.
"The Nairobi Continental Tour meet will prove the country can also organise impeccable global competitions as was witnessed during the memorable IAAF World Under-18 Championships in 2017."
She expressed optimism that both the World Rally Championship and the World Under-20 events will be in Kenya.
"As we celebrate the new date, we also assure of the government's continued progress in preparations for the World Under-20 Championships and World Rally Championship Safari Rally even as we wait for fresh dates for these important competitions.
Amina also said that the government will be updating the federations regularly on the preparations and address covid-19 challenges as they arise.
"The ministry will also be updating the federations and sportspeople regarding progress in the fight against the Coronavirus and on when it would be prudent to resume group training and competition."