- World Athletics has given Kenyan athletes who have been hard hit after the novel coronavirus a reason to smile after announcing a fund of Sh53.6 mn (US$500,000) that will go towards supporting athletes at this difficult period.
International Athletics Foundation (IAF) President Seb Coe will chair an expert multi-regional working group to assess the applications for assistance, which will be submitted through World Athletics’ six Area Associations.
“I am in constant contact with athletes around the world and I know that many are experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the shutdown of most international sports competition in the last two months,” Coe said.
He added that professional athletes rely on prize money as part of their income and WA is mindful of the competition season, on both the track and road, which has been severely impacted by the pandemic. It is their (WA) hopeful that they will be able to stage some competition later this year.
The majority of Kenyan athletes have been greatly hit as the track season, as well as road races, were canceled or postponed as the world continues to grapple to contain the virus.
El Guerrouj said: “The pandemic is causing economic pain to people from all parts of society, including athletes, and this is a time when we must come together as a global community to help each other.”
Last week, Athletics Kenya boss Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei said they were also in talks with the government to find a way of cushioning athletes at this time when they have lost income.
“We are looking at how we can support our athletes, but most importantly, we are looking at the most vulnerable groups. There is a good number who are employed by our government through the Police, Prisons or Defense Forces, but there also remains a good number who solely depend on athletics,” Tuwei stated.
Bernard Ouma, athletics coach, stated in a previous interview that athletes are now ‘relying on reserves’ to keep afloat with money lost through appearance fees, winning allowances, and time bonuses.
Referring to events athletes were looking forward to this year, he said that the London and Boston Marathons have already been postponed while the track season has been left shredded with the Diamond League races in Doha, Stockholm, China, Rome, Rabat, Eugene and Paris all standing canceled.