NAIROBI, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan athletes' frustration continued after World Athletics postponed the lucrative Diamond League series, which was due to start in Doha, Qatar on April 17.
Commonwealth Games 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi, Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon and a horde of 800m runners are some of the elite runners counting their losses as the sport's season is put on hold by the global coronavirus outbreak.
Manangoi, who had penciled in the Doha meet to return to action after shaking off a knee injury that denied him the chance to defend his world title last season, will have to bide his time and wait longer for the season start.
"I am happy with my process coming back from my injury," said Manangoi on Tuesday.
But his targeted return has been postponed. "The Diamond League today announces changes to its 2020 season timetable in response to the growing global crisis around the new coronavirus," said a statement by the event organizers.
"Due to the growing number of countries affected by the COVID-19 virus, the first three meetings of the 2020 Diamond League season, scheduled for April 17 in Qatar, and May 9 and 16 in China, cannot be held as planned."
The elite runners, who are full-time professionals, stand to lose at least 40,000 U.S. dollars in appearance fees and prize money from the cancellation of the first three meetings. Each meet pays out 10,000 U.S. dollars to the winner, trickling down to the sixth-placed finisher.
Focus now turns to the World Athletics Continental Tour, which is due to start in Nairobi on May 2. The event is open to athletes, whose disciplines have been shelved from the Diamond League races.
Kenya's government has implemented a 30-day lockdown of all international sport and travel until April 16. This may change as advised by the Health Ministry.
The Diamond League organizers also said it is forbidden to enter Qatar from a number of countries and regions and the government in Doha has suspended all national and international events for a period of 30 days.
The current plan is to stage the Shanghai event on August 13. However, new dates for Doha and the second meeting in China remain to be announced.
"It could be that they will be held after the Diamond League final in Zurich from Sept. 9-11, where the Diamond League Champions will be crowned, should the global situation allow." .