A Japanese city due to host Kenya’s team for a pre-Olympics training camp has canceled the arrangement.
The Kenyan Olympic Committee (KOC) announced on Wednesday that officials from Kurume City in Japan’s Fukuoka Prefecture had informed them the day before that the camp would no longer be available because the coronavirus situation there was “critical”.
The KOC said the letter from Kurume reported that “COVID-19 infections have rapidly spread in Kurume since mid-April and the situation has been recognised as critical.”
The letter also stated, according to Kenyan Olympic officials, that “the nationwide spread of infection (in Japan) did not subside even in May, and in Fukuoka Prefecture the number of new infections and the number of hospitalised patients both have reached a record high.”
The city told the KOC that the sports facilities it had set aside to be used by the visiting athletes for their pre-games preparations had now been turned into vaccination centers.
The Kenyan Olympic team was due to spend twelve days in Kurume from July 7 to acclimatize before the Tokyo Olympics open on July 23, The Associated Press reported Olympics Kenya acting secretary-general Francis Mutuku as saying.
“We are living in a situation where we expect things to change at any time and we can only focus on training our athletes for the games and leave other matters to experts outside our field,” Mutuku said.
The news is a blow to Kenya’s preparations, but also adds to questions over the International Olympic Committee’s determination to go ahead with the Tokyo Olympics, which will draw more than 10,000 athletes and others connected to the games to Japan in the midst of the pandemic.
Tokyo, the Japanese capital, is currently under a COVID-19 state of emergency.