Five Kenyan athletes who were held up in India due to Covid-19 lockdown, are glad to be back home after several months in the Asian country.
"We are just happy to be back home," said Gideon Kipkurui, one of the long distance athletes who jetted back in the country aboard a Kenya Airways plane on Tuesday 12.45pm.
Also to arrive from Mumbai on Tuesday were athletes Alexander Ng'eno, Isaac Mburugu, Dalmas Kiprono and Isaac Kihara.
Kipkurui and his colleagues couldn't talk much as they were taken to an undisclosed quarantine facility where they will stay for 14 days before they are released to join their respective families.
MANY STILL STRANDED
The five athletes are among many others who got stranded in foreign countries after the government banned all international flights from March 25 as the world battled to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Kenya also banned all sports activities and social gatherings when the country reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus on March 13.
It cost the government and Athletics Kenya Sh357,750 to ferry the athletes back to the country from Mumbai. Sh 71, 550 (US$ 757) was spent on each athlete.
According to Kenyan High Commissioner to India Willy Bett, those being repatriated had to fulfill several requirements, including having Covid-19 free certificate seven days before departure date.
"They must have Covid-free certificate which must be carried in original and be presented to the Kenya Airways staff," said Bett in a statement dated June 17, 2020. "They must also be ready to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine period imposed by the government upon rival in Nairobi."
This brings to 12 the number of athletes AK and the government have either assisted in returning to the country or paid for their quarantine expenses after being stranded abroad owing to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
FOUR ALREADY BACK HOME
On June 5, AK helped repatriate four athletes - Michael Biwott, Millicent Gathoni, Benjamin Kipkasi and Isaac Kipkemoi from Bengaluru, India, having worked closely with the Kenyan Embassy in Delhi.
AK spent Sh87,000 to cater for the cost of connecting flights between Bengaluru to Nairobi via Mumbai for each of the athletes.
"The four have already completed their quarantine period and are back home," said Athletics Kenya president, Jack Tuwei, adding that they expect to assist more athletes, who are stranded in India, China and Spain, to return home.
"We still have a few athletes who are still outside Kenya and need help. We are in touch with the Kenyan Embassies in these countries to help," said Tuwei.