Kenya: Cause for Concern as Nairobi IAAF Event Falls Way Behind Schedule

With about 14 months to the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, there's concern over delays in rolling out preparations for the competition with basic structures yet to be put in place.

The championships' chief executive officer Myke Rabar and Barnabas Korir, a member of its Local Organizing Committee, have been at the World Relays in Yokohama on a benchmarking mission organised by the world track and field governing body, IAAF.

But Korir, who is also the chairman of Athletics Kenya's Nairobi branch, on Monday feared that Kenya's delivery of a successful event could be hampered by, among other issues, delays in the setting up of the championships secretariat.

In stark contrast, preparations for next year's Tokyo Olympic Games - which will be held around the same period as the Nairobi championships - are well ahead of schedule.

Although comparison between the two events could be far-fetched, given the magnitude and grandeur of the Olympics, Tokyo's faultless work ethic puts to shame Kenya's lethargic, bureaucracy-laden run-up to next year's competition.

"At the Yokohama championships over the weekend, we were able to go through all the departments involved in the organisation of global athletics championships, including the technical, knowledge management, I.T., marketing, media and medical departments," Korir explained.

"We covered virtually all aspects, and we realize that we are getting extremely late in putting things in place for the Nairobi competition.

"We need to move a gear up to deliver this event. We are already in May and, for instance, the secretariat is yet to be set up."

Korir appealed to Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed and the government to move with speed so that the planning programme starts functioning. "Above all, we must put the country above all else and put aside our personal differences if we are to host a successful championship," he added.

Nairobi will host the age-group competition from July 7 to 12 next year at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, venue of the largely successful IAAF World Under-18 Championships in 2017.

"If you look at the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) timeline, all aspects of our planning are in the red," he feared.

CEO Rabar is scheduled to launch an official countdown to the Nairobi championships on July 8 to mark one year to the competition.

On the sidelines of the Yokohama relays, officials from the Colombian athletics federation said they have put up a strong bid to host the 2022 under-20 championships and were keen to learn from Nairobi's successes, especially after the 2017 under-18 competition that saw the Kasarani record the highest number of fans at at IAAF age-group competition.

Korir and Rabar were expected back in Nairobi Monday night.

Meanwhile, officials of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics yesterday said they had confirmed dates for the Games' test events.

The "Marathon Grand Championship" will be held at Meijijingu Gaien in Tokyo on September 15 with the "Tokyo Challenge" track and field meeting planned for May 5 and 6, next year.

The marathon competition will also be an Olympic qualifier for Japanese athletes. "We are looking to hosting full stadium events to test various aspects of the new Olympic stadium including security, field of play, etc," said Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya, who briefed journalists along with the Games' sporting director, former Olympic hammer throw champion Koji Murofishi, Monday.

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