NAIROBI, Kenya- Organisers of the 2017 IAAF World Under 18 Championships in Nairobi are working to implement necessary measures to deliver a safe and secure event for athletes.
The assurance came barely 48 hours after Japan became the seventh nation to pull out of the global track and field showpiece over security concerns.
In a statement, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) sought to allay insecurity fears by emphasising they were working round the clock to guarantee the event passes on without incident.
World governing body, the IAAF CEO, Olivier Gers is in the Kenyan capital for a site visit ahead of the event that will run from July 12 to 16 where he lauded the hosts.
“A huge amount of work has gone into the preparation of these championships and I want to thank the organising committee and everyone in Nairobi and across Kenya for the work they have put in,” said Gers.
“The athletes will love competing in this beautiful stadium and I hope the fans will give them the loudest of cheers,” the executive who was accompanied by LOC Chair Jackson Tuwei and CEO Michael Mwangi Muthee added.
“We have the final push in the weeks ahead, finishing off, tidying up and making sure all the final elements are in place.
“It’s like a house; it almost takes longer to put the finishing touches on the house and to make everything right than to actually build it,” Muthee told.
Gers toured the facilities including the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani stadium and was shown around Kenyatta University where the athletes will be accommodated.
“After a slight delay to the installation of the new synthetic track at the stadium while the material was stuck in customs, work is now under way and the LOC is confident the tracks will be ready in time for the championships on 12-16 July.
“The LOC is also working to implement the necessary security measures to deliver a safe and secure environment for the athletes,” organisers emphasised.
This comes against the backdrop of the damaging withdraw of Japan, a country that has an established tradition of training partnerships with Kenya.
Famous Kenyan distance running stars such as Douglas Wakiihuri, Eric Wainaina and the late Samuel Wanjiru to Olympics silver medallist, Paul Tanui honed their careers in Japan.
“In light of security concerns about Kenya and the situation regarding other countries’ participation, the JAAF executive committee made the decision to pull out on the 12th,” local Japanese outlets reported on Tuesday.
United States- the overall champions from the 2015 edition in Cali, Colombia-, Great Britain, Canada, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand are the other top nations that turned their backs on Nairobi 2017 for the same reasons.
Nairobi World U18 will be the first global track and field championships to be held in Kenya.
It will also be the final edition of the World U18 Championships as the IAAF’s focus will shift towards driving regional and continental competitions.