Kenya: Athletes Arrested for Training in Violation of Government Ban

Twelve athletes were Monday arrested in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County, for training in a group against the government ban on social gatherings and sports activities.

The athletes, 10 Kenyans and two foreigners, were taken to Iten police station before local Athletics Kenya officials intervened on their behalf.

Athletics Kenya officials, who spoke to the media at the police station, acknowledged that the athletes were at fault.

Coach Elkanah Ruto termed the incident as unfortunate and risky to the lives of other athletes and members of the public.

"The athletes were arrested by security officers in collaboration with the county's department of health. The same departments had earlier on engaged us on how we are supposed to conduct our training to ensure that we stay safe from the coronavirus," said Ruto.

Last week, Athletics Kenya ordered all training camps in the country to be closed indefinitely and athletes instructed to maintain social distancing and train individually.

However, according to the coach, a number of foreign athletes, who arrived in the country recently were not yet familiar with the rule.

"The lives of the athletes matter because they are the ones who put the country on the world map. We are very cognizant of that and will not take anything for granted," said Ruto.

The County's executive in charge of health, Kiprono Chepkok, called on all the coaches in the county to warn their athletes against crowding.

" It's very unfortunate that the arrests were made just days after we called all sports stakeholders in the county and directed them on how to carry out their activities at this time when we are battling the deadly virus," said Chepkok.

County sports executive, Ms Anita Kimwatan, confirmed that the athletes would be released and warned against such gatherings.

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