Kenya’s athletics authority has barred its athletes from travelling to international events due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
The announcement comes a day after the World Health Organisation labelled the outbreak a pandemic.
More than 126 000 people have been infected globally by the virus and more than 4 600 have died, according to a Reuters tally based on official announcements.
The East African nation, which has not had a confirmed case of the virus, boasts some of the world’s top athletes, who regularly win medals at premier competitions in Europe, Asia and North America.
“Following a directive from the Government of Kenya and due to the global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, Athletics Kenya has suspended all clearance and travel to international events for athletes,” Athletics Kenya said in a statement.
“In a bid to safeguard the athletes and consequently the country from the virus, we urge all athletes to cancel travel arrangements for the next one month pending further communication.”
Bernard Ouma, who coaches 1 500m world champion Timothy Cheruiyot, told Reuters on Thursday: “Collectively we are taking precautions just as the country is taking precautions.
“The risk of importation is what we are trying to avoid. So whatever measures are being taken by the authorities we will abide with them.
“At the end of the day it’s about health … if by travelling you will get sick, then you avoid travelling.”