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Poles forced to change plans after World Athletics Championships rescheduled

30.01.2020 13:00
Several Polish athletes and sports officials have voiced disappointment after this winter’s World Athletics Indoor Championships were postponed because of fears over the spread of the coronavirus in China.
Medical staff use an infrared thermal imager to check the temperature of passengers at Nanjing South Railway station in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China, this week.
Medical staff use an infrared thermal imager to check the temperature of passengers at Nanjing South Railway station in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China, this week.Photo: EPA/SU YANG

The 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships were scheduled to take place in Nanjing, China from March 13 to 15, but the sport’s global governing body on Wednesday put them off until next year.

The decision by World Athletics “greatly complicates the situation,” said Krzysztof Kęcki, sports director of the Polish Athletics Association (PZLA), as quoted by the onet.pl website.

He added that the Polish governing body for track-and-field could lose around PLN 100,000 (EUR, 23,500, USD 25,700) in money spent on air ticket reservations and a planned acclimatisation camp for a group of 30 athletes in Daegu, South Korea.

“We are insured, but I’m not sure that will help,” Kęcki was quoted as saying.

He added that World Athletics nevertheless made “the right decision” rescheduling the championships “because the health of athletes must not be put at risk,” onet.pl reported.

Meanwhile, shot putter Konrad Bukowiecki told Poland’s PAP news agency that the move by World Athletics left him and his coach "in shock.”

He also said the decision means he needs to change his training plans amid ongoing preparations for the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I was getting ready to compete” in Nanjing in March, “but now we have to change our plans as we prepare for the Olympics,” Bukowiecki said, as quoted by Poland’s PAP news agency.

“I didn't expect such a decision at all,” he added. “… Rather, we were hoping that the championships would be transferred somewhere else.”

World Athletics said in a statement on Wednesday: "The advice from our medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organisation, is that the spread of the Coronavirus both within China and outside the country is still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed.

"We have considered the possibility of relocating the event to another country and would like to thank the cities that have volunteered to host the championships.

"However, given concerns still exist regarding the spread of the virus outside China, we have decided not to go with this option, as it may lead to further postponement at a later date.

"We have chosen not to cancel the championships as many of our athletes would like this event to take place so we will now work with our athletes, our partners and the Nanjing organising committee to secure a date in 2021 to stage this event."

The World Health Organisation warned on Wednesday that the "whole world needs to be on alert" as the coronavirus spreads across borders.

According to health authorities, the coronavirus has killed at least 170 people in China and more than 7,700 have been infected, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported on Thursday.


Source: onet.pl, PAP, worldathletics.org