AK lobbies EU embassies to save Kenyan athletes from Diamond League blockade

The Ministry of Sports backed by Athletics Kenya have begun to engage embassies of European Union (EU) countries in a bid to rally them to allow Kenyan athletes to compete in Europe when the athletics season resumes next month. Kenya was omitted from the list of countries whose citizens are allowed to travel into Schengen states when the European Union (EU) opened its borders last week. The borders were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and Kenya is not among the 15 countries across the world deemed by the EU  be “safe” based on their Covid-19 compliance. With the Monaco Diamond League slated for August 14, AK president Jackson Tuwei has said the federation is in talks with embassies of the European nations to allow Kenyan athletes to attend races in their countries. “We have learned that some countries may not open up to some countries of the world, Kenya included.  We have discussed with the Ministry of Sports and we have even discussed with some of the ambassadors of those countries to see whether the decision can be reversed,” said Tuwei. Athletics Kenya (AK) President Lt. Gen. Jackson Tuwei addresses the media at the Riadha house offices in Nairobi, Kenya on January 28, 2016. Photo/Stafford Ondego/ www.sportpicha.com He added: “Our athletes have suffered a lot since the lock-down was instituted and we don’t want them to suffer further if they can get a chance to go and compete. If they miss a whole season then it is not about missing to travel, they are also missing a lot in terms of finances, profiles and even in terms of rankings.” Already the world 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda and world 1,500m champion Sifan Hassan of Netherlands have already been confirmed for the Monaco meeting. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Sports has started the process of collecting views from sports stakeholders on the possible resumption of sporting activities in the country. All the sporting activities in the country were put on hold when Kenya announced its first case of coronavirus in March. On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the ban of movement in and out of Nairobi Metropolitan, Mombasa and Mandera counties while the dusk to dawn curfew was extended for a further 30 days. However, the fate of the resumption of sporting activities is yet to be known even as the Cabinet Secretary of Sports Amina Mohammed named an Advisory Committee led by Chief Administrative Secretary Hassan Noor Hassan to advise on the same.

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