NAIROBI, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The inaugural World Athletics Continental Tour, which was due to kick off here on May 2 has been postponed indefinitely.
The event was to bring together top Africa athletes in middle and long distances as a cushion to the omission of the events from the lucrative Diamond League. The Nairobi Continental Tour had a prize fund of 200,000 U.S. dollars.
However, World Athletics has decided to suspend the first five meetings of the tour because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by the coronavirus. Thus, the Nairobi event will now be postponed.
Sebastian Coe, the World Athletics president, said in a statement on Saturday that "We confirms that Nairobi (May 2), Tokyo (May 10), Nanjing (May 13), Ostrava (May 22) and Turku (June 9) were all postponed for later in the season. Already earlier was announced that Hengelo meet (planned for June 1) will be held next time in 2021."
With reduced disciplines for the Diamond League, the World Athletics had opted to start the one-day Continental Tour to accommodate the other races. But the health of athletes is the most important at the moment.
Coe insisted that they hope they will be able to get their athletes back on track to compete once the situation improves and the world defeats the coronavirus.
"Our priority is getting our athletes back into competition as soon as possible, once it is safe to do so. We will continue to do whatever we can to preserve and create an outdoor season of one-day meetings in 2020, starting and ending later than usual, so athletes, when they are able and it is safe, will have access to competitions in every region," Coe added.