The IAAF World Under-18 Championships that start at Kasarani Stadium tomorrow will feature a refugee team and another group accredited as Authorised Neutral Athletes for the first time in the competition’s history.
The landmark occurrence comes one year after a refugee team made its maiden appearance in the Olympics at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Athletes displaced by raging wars from their home nations and those from countries under IAAF ban, Russia, comprise the refugee and Neutrals teams.
Already, 127 countries have confirmed participation for the 10th and final edition of the event with the Local Organising Committee (LOC projecting the number to hit 157 before the championships gun off.
IAAF Doping Review Board sitting on June 30 accepted the applications of nine Russian athletes to compete as neutral athletes under Competition Rule 22.1A(b) while the Russian national federation (RusAF) remains suspended.
Their participation as neutral athletes in Nairobi became subject to formalities for eligibility under IAAF Rules but were completed and entries made for the championships. In total, 22 applications have been approved and 45 have been declined this year.
The Doping Review Board, which is composed of Robert Hersh, Sylvia Barlag and Antti Pihlakoski, accepted the applications of the U18 athletes. The composition of the refugees team will be revealed today with majority expected to be South Sudanese nationals living in Kenya.
“We are unperturbed by countries that withdrew citing security fears. The championships will be a success and we expect 157 countries to take part.
Security in the country and particularly venues where the championships are concentrated has been beefed up,” said Sports Cabinet Secretary Hasan Wario.