Kenya charms nations out to boycott global youth athletics event

Nairobi, Feb 14 (IANS) Kenya on Tuesday said it has embarked on a mission to charm nations that have announced their boycott of the 2017 World Under-18 Athletics Championships scheduled for July to review their stand over security fears.

Government spokesman Eric Kiraithe told a media briefing that a high level team of diplomats has been assembled to reach out to nations that are doubtful of the security of their citizens when their athletes attend the competition. The diplomats will also assure them of their safety during the five-day event which will run from July 12-16, reports Xinhua.

“The team, which will be coordinated by the ministry of foreign affairs, will use all diplomatic channels available to reach out to those states that have announced their pulling out of the championships due to one reason or another,” the spokesman told reporters after attending an inter-ministerial committee meeting.

Already, six countries — Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, US, Britain and Australia have announced they will not send teams to the championships.

“Any country is free to review operations we have assembled to assess and certify whether or not the security of their citizens will be compromised,” Kiraithe said after an inter-ministerial committee session.

“Kenya’s security is perfect and there is no doubt about that. Our country has shown top-class ability to keep her citizens and visitors safe despite the global challenge of terrorism. However, we will not discuss publicly the security measures that we have put in place for obvious reasons,” Kiraithe said.

The spokesman said the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe will visit Kenya in June to sample first-hand experience on the country’s state of preparedness for the event.