Coronavirus delays World Athletics champs

With less than two months to go for the World Athletics Championships, formerly the IAAF World Indoor Championships, the organizers and World Athletics have decided to postpone the championships until March 2021.

The event was slated to be held at Nanjing’s Cube in Nanjing, China, from March 13-15, 2020.

In a press release earlier this week, the World Athletics medical team advised organizers to postpone the event.

“The advice from our medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organization, is that the spread of the coronavirus both within China and outside the country is still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed,” the release read.

The release also said that they are aware that China is doing all it can to contain the coronavirus. However, World Athletics said it’s necessary to provide athletes and member federations with a clear way forward.

As of yesterday, the death toll for the coronavirus was over 200 people.

One of those member federations is the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA). BAAA President Drumeco Archer said the athletes’ safety is their priority.

“We were looking forward to this – being one of the marquee events on the calendar this year second to the Olympic Games,” Archer said. “Of course, nothing takes priority over the safety and the lives of our athletes. When you consider the magnitude of this event, we, ourselves, as an executive thought that we should pay attention to the impact of this virus.”

Archer added that they were considering withdrawing from the championships this year before World Athletics decided to postpone it to 2021.

The Bahamas was looking to qualify the relay team for this year’s Olympic Games.

The World Indoor Championships are held every even year and the World Outdoor Championships are held in the odd years.

As for relocating the event, the World Athletics said they considered it but decided not to.

“We have considered the possibility of relocating the event to another country and would like to thank the cities that have volunteered to host the championships. However, given concerns still existing regarding the spread of the virus outside China, we have decided not to go with this option, as it may lead to further postponement at a later date,” the release stated.

The release continued: “The indoor season for athletics falls within a narrow calendar window (up to the end of March) and we believe we will be able to find a suitable date in 2021 to host this event. We would like Nanjing to be the host given the extensive planning and preparation they have put into this event.”

There is not a set date as yet for the championships but the World Athletics are working with the organizers to secure a date in 2021 to put on the event.

Up to yesterday, there were 11 Bahamian qualifiers for the championships: Doneisha Anderson (400 meters (m)); Pedrya Seymour (60m hurdles); Devynne Charlton (60 m hurdles); Shaunae Miller-Uibo (400m); Megan Moss (400m); Tynia Gaither (60m); Brianne Bethel (60m); Steven Gardiner (400m); Samson Colebrooke (60m); and twins Lathone and Latario Collie-Minns (triple jump).

At the 2018 edition of the World Indoor Championships held in Birmingham, England, The Bahamas finished with three finals spots, one semi-finalist and another who had a shot to advance through the rounds.

As for the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan, slated for late July this year, Archer noted the Bahamas Olympics Association is the parent body in The Bahamas, and they have not given the BAAA any feedback.

However, he said the BAAA is hoping that a solution or remedy is available for the virus by that time.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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