KIPROTICH: How coronavirus is stretching the 2021 athletics calendar
After months of speculation, the Olympics Games were finally, as widely expected, postponed to next year due the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement made on Tuesday in a joint statement by International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the local organizing committee not only ended the anxiety surrounding the Games but also became the final nail in the coffin of major global sporting activities in 2020.
With the world currently in a standstill due to the fears of the virus, the postponement of the largest global sporting extravaganza came as a relieve to athletes whose preparations had been greatly impacted by the uncertainty.
As we all pray and wish that the disease will vanish as quickly as possible to for the normal activities, including sports to resume, when the dust settles the year 2021 will present yet another testing times for sporting activities which have already been postponed.
First, it is worth noting that two major World Athletics events have been lined up for next year; World Cross Country Championships slated for March 20 in Bathrust, Australia and the World Championships due for Oregon, USA between August 6-15.
With the Olympic Games set to be staged before the summer of 2021, it means the postponement of other events to 2022 is imminent.
Here is a look at how major events will affect the 2021 calendar
Already, World Athletics has hinted over a possible postponement of the World Championships by a year.
“World Athletics stands ready to work with the IOC and all sport on an alternative date for the Olympic Games in 2021 and has already been in discussion with the Organising Committee of the World Athletics Championships Oregon 21 regarding the possibility of moving the dates of this highly popular worldwide event including dates in 2022,” World Athletics said in a statement.
In an eventuality that the World Championships is moved to 2022 that may as well necessitate readjustment of the Commonwealth Games which are planned for July 27-August 7, 2022 in Birmingham City, England.
World Indoor Championships
The 18th World Indoor Championships were scheduled to be held this year on March 13-15 in Nanjing, China. However, with China being the epicenter of the virus, the event was pushed to March 2021 and to be held in the same city.
The continental athletics calendar has not been spared either with two major events lined up for this year also postponed to 2021.
The Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) already announced that the Africa Senior Athletics Championships that was due for Algeria in June 24-28 had been postponed to 2021.
Similarly, the 6th African Cross-Country Championships that was slated for Lome, Togo on April 8 had already been delayed until 2021.
The postponement of the two events will also add to the already chaotic 2021 athletics calendar which could see the World Cross Country and Africa Cross Country held in the same year.
However. Athletics Kenya (AK) Vice President in charge of competitions Paul Mutwii observes that it will be hard to hold both events at the same year.
“It will be very difficult for Africa Cross t be held the same year as the World Cross. In this case one event may have to be cancelled in this case, the African Cross. However, depending with how the situation unfolds the event may still be rescheduled latter this year although it is also unlikely because you also have to take into consideration the athletes,” Mutwii told Citizen Digital.
World Under- 20 and World Continental Tour
Back at home, Kenya was also set to host two global events whose fate are yet to be known.
Kenya was set to host the first leg of the inaugural World Athletics Continental Tour which was earmarked for May 2 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Although the World Athletics alongside the Local Organising Committee (LOC) is yet to announce new dates, the possibility of hosting the event in 2020 still hangs in the balance.
At the same time, the World Junior Championship that was also slated for Kasarani on July 7-12 has also been postponed indefinitely.
According to Mutwii who is in charge of drafting the national calendar said there are no plans to re-draft this season’s calendar even after the pandemic.
The AK calendar usually runs from November to October meaning most of the events are yet to be held.
“Of course, we are in unprecedented situation following the spread of the virus. We know most of the events have already been affected while some will still be affecting depending when this problem will be over. We are not going to revise the calendar because it is likely to cause even more complications,” said Mutwii.
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