With 50 days to go, the World Athletics U20 Championships remain on track for a successful staging in Nairobi in August following a four-day visit this month from a World Athletics expert team to monitor the progress of the local organising committee (LOC).
The pandemic has created exceptionally challenging circumstances for the local organisers in Nairobi as they prepare for an event that will feature up to 1300 athletes from 128 Member Federations.
However, they are well supported by the Kenyan Government, Athletics Kenya and World Athletics, which now has substantial experience and expertise in conducting safe international events despite the progress of Covid-19 around the world.
The World U20 Championships, initially scheduled for 2020, were postponed until 17-22 August this year as the pandemic advanced. The Nairobi LOC has made strong progress in its preparations despite difficult local conditions, with the city under lockdown measures for much of the past 12-18 months.
During their visit, the World Athletics team prioritised discussions about the measures being taken to create a safe and secure environment for athletes and other accredited groups, and the additional elements and resources required to stage an international event in these times.
World Athletics wishes to thank the Kenyan Government for their commitment to:
• waive the 14 days quarantine upon arrival for all participants (who will undergo the pre-event protocol as laid out by World Athletics and successfully trialled at the World Athletics Relays in Silesia in May)
• streamline visa application procedures – instead of each individual having to request online, the government will issue visas to all accredited people
• activate measures to guarantee that the security of all participants remains strong at all times
World Athletics now has well-established and pressure-tested health and safety protocols in place to protect those participating in World Athletics Series events, having successfully conducted the World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia and the World Athletics Relays in Silesia during the past year.
In Silesia two months ago, more than 7000 Covid-19 tests were conducted on some 2000 participants (which included 700 team members from 31 countries), without a single case of infection at the event.
The World U20 Championships is a significantly larger event but our Health and Science Department is confident that these measures will scale up successfully to protect both the international teams and officials attending this event, and the local population in Nairobi.
To make Nairobi a Covid-19-free event, World Athletics and the local organisers plan to build two bubbles in Kasarani and Nyayo Stadiums respectively as well as 10 hotel bubbles (for teams, officials and suppliers). The projected number of Covid tests for this coming event is more than 15,000.
“We wish to thank both the Kenyan Government and the LOC for their tireless efforts to make sure the world’s best U20 athletes can gather safely in Nairobi in August for what is a key milestone in their development into elite senior international athletes,” said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.
“The stars of tomorrow generally begin to shine in this competition, and it is important for the youth of Kenya – one of our sport’s most productive cradles of athletic talent – to see these future stars competing on their own soil and to dream of what is possible. I want to reassure both the athletes and the people of Kenya that we will do our utmost to ensure their safety as the competition unfolds.”