Coronavirus: Japanese city cancels Kenya Olympic training camp over virus

NAIROBI, KENYA – A Japanese city due to host the Kenyan team for a pre -Olympics training camp has been canceled because of “critical conditions there with the coronavirus,” the Kenyan Olympic committee said on Wednesday.

City officials from Kurume in the Fukuoka Prefecture area of ​​Japan’s southern tip informed Kenya on Tuesday that they had canceled, according to the committee.

The Kenyan Olympic committee said the letter from Kurume reported that “COVID-19 infections have spread rapidly in Kurume from mid-April and the condition has been identified as critical.”

The letter from Kurume also stated, in agreement with Kenyan Olympics officials, that “the spread of the infection nationwide (in Japan) has not subsided even in May, and in Fukuoka Prefecture the number of new infections and the the number of hospitalized patients has equally reached record highs. “

The city told the Kenyan team that the warm-up facilities it has allocated to be used by visiting athletes for their pre-games preparations have already been turned into vaccination centers.

The Kenyan team is scheduled to spend 12 days in Kurume from July 7 to acclimatize before the Tokyo Olympics open on July 23, according to Kenya Olympic secretary general Francis Mutuku.

“We live in a situation where we expect things to change at any time and we can just focus on training our athletes for the games and leave other things to the experts outside of our field, “Mutuku said. “Of course, this is a great opportunity for our athletes to get to know and we will have to rely on other plans to prepare for the games.”

The news is a shock to Kenya’s preparations, but also raises questions about the International Olympic Committee’s determination to continue the Tokyo Olympics, which will attract more than 10,000 athletes and others connected to the Japanese games among in the pandemic. Tokyo is currently under COVID-19 state of emergency.

“We are working on the assurances we have received that the Olympics will continue, and our athletes are motivated because the Olympics are the most crowded event in the world,” Mutuku said. “There are some who have doubts but we encourage them to be prepared.”

The Kenyan team leader said it was “too late” to organize another training camp in Japan before the Olympics.

“We advise our teams to continue local preparation,” said Waithaka Kioni, the Kenyan team’s chief of mission.

Kenya won 13 medals at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and finished second behind the United States in the track and field medal count, where even Jamaica was outshone.


Imray reports from Cape Town, South Africa.

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