Olympic cancellation would be a ‘tragedy’ – AK chief Tuwei

The Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jackson Tuwei has said cancellation of the Olympics would cast a huge mental burden upon athletes as he backed the Tokyo 2020 organisers’ decision to push on with preparations for the Summer Games amid fresh COVID-19 concerns.

A report published two weeks ago by British outlet Times claimed the Japanese government had privately resolved to cancel the Games but that was followed by swift denials from Japan and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who reiterated their commitment to host the Summer Games.

Tuwei said cancellation would be a ‘tragedy’ for athletes who might never get another chance to compete at the Olympics, which are held in a four-year cycle, adding some of them may never recover from the ‘heartache’.

“If we start thinking about postponing again it demoralizes athletes especially after they’ve prepare so well. Remember some of these athletes may not get another chance to complete at the very high level.

“We have had historical experiences in this country where Kenya missed two Olympics; 1976 and 1980 and I cam tell you the athletes who had qualified at the time still carry that heartache to date. It takes a huge toll on athletes,” Tuwei told Citizen Digital.

The showpiece was subject to an unprecedented year-long postponement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to hold it this year face stark public disapproval with 77% of of Japanese people saying they want the showpiece be either canceled or further postponed.

“Personally I would wish to see the Olympics happen; my take is for the Olympics to proceed even with whatever conditions or restrictions,” said Tuwei.

At the same time, Tuwei bemoaned the cancellation of the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon that was due for February 19.

Tuwei was speaking on Thursday at Tiloa Primary School in Kuresoi North Constituency, Nakuru County where he was the chief guest at an event held to commission construction of classrooms.

The AK chief was in the company of area Member of Parliament Moses Cheboi who doubles as the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. The legislator also presented a 31-seater bus to the school.

The school which is also an athletics powerhouse in the region produced six girls who will be competing at the National Cross Country Championships slated for February 13 at the Ngong Race Course.

“I have also seen the girls who will participate in the nationals and I want to wish them the very best when they come to Nairobi. It really shows that a lot of work has been done here all the way from the pupils to the MP and also the AK leadership in Nakuru,” said Tuwei.

Purity Chepkirui who is one of the athletes who qualified for the nationals said she is eyeing to represent the country at the Africa Cross Country slated for Lome, Togo in March 1-2

“I want to win the nationals and thereafter target a gold medal in Togo. I am training hard always just as our motto states, hard work pays,” said the class eight pupil who adores Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon.

AK recently issued running shoes and spikes from Nike to the athletes as they also plot for World Under-20 Championships slated for August.

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