Kenya is in the midst of a frantic eleventh-hour effort to be ready to stage the IAAF World under-18 Athletics Championship next week.
No less than 1,400 athletes from 130 countries are expected to arrive in Nairobi for the four-day competition, which is the final meet of the World U18 competition.
On Tuesday the athletes’ village at Kenyatta University was declared ready, but the organising committee acknowledged a lot of work still needed to be done to complete the main competition venue, the Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani, Nairobi.
“We are undergoing a big test as the organising committee, and as the people of Kenya, to make sure we stage the best athletics championships ever,” the World U-18 Championship chief executive officer Mwangi Muthee said.
“There is a lot of clean-up work to be done to the running track, which needs to be lane-marked, and the workers are busy laying on the tartan [all weather surface] on the warm-up track. But we hope to be ready when the athletes begin to have the feel of the stadium on Saturday.”
Poland, which hosted the inaugural championship in its northern city of Bydgoszcz in 1999, is expected to be the first foreign team to arrive in Nairobi late Tuesday.
The July 12-14 championship, however, has been overshadowed by the absence of seven high-profile nations — including defending champions the United States — which have opted out citing security concerns.
Kenya finished second to the US in Cali, Colombia, in 2015. This year a 78-strong squad has been selected to participate in all the 37 events during the competition.