It seems the order of the day for sports events this year has been a postponement or cancelation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It then came as no surprise on Tuesday when the World Athletics family announced the postponement of the 2020 World Athletics (WA) Under-20 (U20) Championships. The meet was set for July 7-12 at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya.
This announcement came on the heels of the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games.
In a press release, World Athletics, formerly the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations), said that the postponement was a collaborative effort between that global athletic body, Athletics Kenya and the government of Kenya, 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 organizers to avoid mass gatherings,” the release read.
President of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Drumeco Archer said this is in line with what has been transpiring this year and they were prepared for such a decision by World Athletics.
“The postponement of world juniors is a testimony of the collective global fight against the virus. Like the postponement of the Olympic Games, these are similar steps that must be taken to mitigate the spread of the virus,” Archer said. “Though we are saddened by these turns of events, which has put track and field and global sports in a tailspin, we recognize that life has changed for the entire world.”
In the press release, World Athletics stated that they had to consider the health and wel-being of athletes, official and spectators in coming to the decision to postpone the meet.
“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,” the release stated.
As for a new date for the championships, the World Athletics family pointed out that they are working along with the government of Kenya and the elite competitors to identify a mutually appropriate alternative date.
They are hoping to announce a new date in the coming weeks as the local organizing committee continues to work on logistics and technical adjustments.
Archer said the federation just wants to get past this stage of inactivity and head back to the track.
“We want to get over this as quickly as practicable, with the safety of our athletes being our paramount concern and priority,” Archer said. “The economic impact is untold, affecting both our junior and senior athletes – scholarship opportunities for supporting college-bound athletes and, on the other hand, the sponsorship and revenue-generating opportunities for our senior athletes.”
As of yesterday, the Bahamian qualifiers for the world juniors were Jaida Knowles in the women’s 100 meters (m), Terrance Jones in the men’s 200m, Wendell Miller in the men’s 400m hurdles and Megan Moss in the women’s 400m.
The meet is held once every two years. The previous meet was held in 2018 in Tampere, Finland. At this time, it is unsure if the meet will be held in late 2020 or in 2021.