Sat | Apr 4, 2020

World U20s cancelled

Published:Friday | March 27, 2020 | 12:23 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s Briana Williams wins the 200m gold to complete the sprint double at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland on Saturday, July 14, 2018.
Jamaica’s Briana Williams wins the 200m gold to complete the sprint double at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland on Saturday, July 14, 2018.

In the wake of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, the World Athletics Under-20 Championships has also been taken off the 2020 calendar. The cancellation was announced on Tuesday via the website of the sport’s world governing body.

“We had to consider the health and well-being of athletes, officials, and spectators in making this call,” World Athletics said. “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 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 statement continued, before promising to seek “a mutually appropriate alternative date convenient for the Government of Kenya and elite competitors”.

PREVIOUS MEDAL HAUL

Thanks to double-winning sprinter Briana Williams, discus thrower Kai Chang and champion 110m hurdler Damion Thomas, Jamaica won four gold medals in 2018 when the Finnish city of Tampere hosted 1,462 athletes from almost 160 countries at the last World Under-20 championships.

As of yesterday, Kenya has recorded 25 cases of the virus and suspended international flights.

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association president, Dr Warren Blake, would not have been surprised.

“It doesn’t look good at all, the sport and entertainment industry, because the entertainment industry brings a lot of people together in a common space, and that is going to be key in fighting COVID-19,” he said.

“When I go into the journals and I look at the predictions at bringing an outbreak of an infectious disease under control, they’re all predicated on three months.”

He is worried that a breakout could occur in Africa.

“A lot of people are hoping that because it’s a coronavirus, a flu-type virus, that with the advent of warmer weather, the flu season will stop, or get less and the number of new cases will become significantly reduced,” he said, “but we live in a world that has both northern and southern hemispheres, and if they are so, and that happens in the north, it might very well break out in Africa because Africa would then be experiencing their winter.”

The virus had already led to the postponement of the World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was set for earlier this month in Nanjing, China.