Last week, World Athletics announced new dates for the rescheduled 2020 World Under-20 Championships now due August 17-22 next year in Nairobi. The junior track and field event had been programmed for July 7 to 12 this year at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, but it was postponed owing to Covid-19 pandemic.
The announcement of the new dates by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe on Thursday is good news to Kenya, considering that most athletics competitions scheduled for this year have either been postponed or have been called off.
The announcement of new dates for the championship is a sign of confidence that World Athletics has in Kenya, especially following the success of the 2017 World U-18 Championships and the 2007 Mombasa World Cross Country Championships.
It puts to rest fear among athletes that the competition would be cancelled. The country should not take the gesture for granted. It must pay back the confidence by staging a flawless championship that complies with health protocols from Ministry of Health and World Athletics.
Coming a year before the championship, the announcement gives Kenya a great opportunity to plan well for yet another successful event.
Already, 2020 World U-20 Championships Chief Executive Officer Mike Rabar has indicated that the initial budget of Sh1.3 billion for the event will go up by Sh250 million, partly due to the postponement and, to a greater extent, because of new competition guidelines by World Athletics in view of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Besides bringing in more equipment to avoid sharing among athletes, adjustments will be made in the changing rooms, media tribunal, among other areas in compliance with health protocols.
These are conditions that Kenya must adhere to strictly. There is no cure or vaccine yet for the novel coronavirus that has already claimed more than 673,000 lives worldwide.
Lastly, nearly half of Team Kenya athletes will have exceeded the age limit by the new championship date next year. The coaches, therefore, have no option but to go back to the drawing board and groom their replacements.