COVID-19 puts brakes on JII meet, World U-20 Championships

Covid-19

COVID-19 puts brakes on JII meet, World U-20 Championships

Thursday, March 26, 2020

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The Jamaica International Invitational (JII) and the World Athletics Under-20 Championships are the latest track and field events to have fallen under the axe of the COVID-19 pandemic after they were both postponed earlier this week.

The JII meet, that was not held last year, was scheduled to return on Saturday, May 2, and a number of World and Olympic Games champions had confirmed their participation in the event that was part of the Continental Tour.

On Tuesday, however, Donald Quarrie, athlete liaison for the meet, had said in an e-mail that they were forced to put off the meet until further notice and “more information on the new date will be communicated once it has been confirmed”.

The release said the decision was taken “in the best interest of the well-being of the athletes, coaches, officials, spectators, sponsors, and all others involved in putting on this annual event”.

Quarrie said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is having a tremendous effect on the lives of persons globally and has caused major changes and disruption in the world of sports. To date, the COVID-19 pandemic is still not under control in numerous countries, including Jamaica.”

Less than three weeks after unveiling the official logo for the World Athletics Under-20 Championships, the organisers took the decision on Tuesday to put the brakes on the planning of the six-day championships and said in a release that,“The local organising committee will continue with the preparations as we engage on new dates which we hope to announce in the coming weeks.”

The event was set for July 7-12 in Nairobi and Jamaica was expected to send a strong team to the east African country, which would be hosting their second World Athletics track and field event after a successful 2017 staging of the final Under-17 Championships.

The release said: “It is with regret that World Athletics, together with the Government of Kenya and Athletics Kenya, have made the decision to postpone the World Athletics U-20 Championships Nairobi 2020 (July 7-12), due to the ongoing challenges posed by the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) internationally.

“The current global situation would have seriously compromised the event at this time as many countries are restricting international travel, invoking necessary quarantines and advising citizens and event organisers to avoid mass gatherings. We had to consider the health and well-being of athletes, officials, and spectators in making this call. We recognise the immense preparations that have gone into the event and wanted to give certainty to the athletes as early as possible as we collectively come to terms with the global impact and threats associated with COVID-19,” the release went on to say adding, “The advice from the World Athletics medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organization, is that the spread of the novel coronavirus is at a concerning level in many countries and all major gatherings should be reviewed without delay.”

World Athletics said they were looking at a “mutually appropriate alternative date convenient for the Government of Kenya and elite competitors”.

— Paul Reid


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