Kenya pledges security as U18 athletics worlds opens

NAIROBI, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday evening opened the IAAF U-18 World Championships in Nairobi with an assurance to citizens and all visiting athletes that the East African nation is very secure.

"I wish to assure you that Kenya is a secure and peaceful country and continues to embrace democratic ideals as we progress in building our nation," said Kenyatta.

Security was tight at the venue as all vehicles heading to the venue of the event must undergo security checking more than 100 meters away from the stadium and police officers are under instructions to be courteous albeit maintaining a hawk eye on people.

Kenyatta assured the international sporting fraternity of Kenya' s commitment to ethical, clean and fair sports competition.

"My administration fully supports the fight against unfair sporting practices as part of developing this industry," the president said as he announced free entry to the games for the remainder of the period.

He underlined the importance of sports in people's lives.

"Sports make our bodies strong, strengthens collaboration, builds discipline and also plays an important role in international relations," Kenyatta said.

He said sports provides people with a unique opportunity to stand as one irrespective of geography, language and creed.

Kenyatta described the championships as a special occasion for the people, saying sports occupies a unique place in the Kenyan society, a country recognized globally for producing some of the greatest athletics heroes.

"This event provides a unique platform to develop new talent and future champions," Kenyatta said.

Kenya produced impressive performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics where they bagged six gold medals and a total of 13 medals to finish second in athletics behind the United States.

During the 2015 U-18 worlds in Cali, Colombia, young Kenyans also hauled 13 medals again in second position after the United States.

"These are examples of our senior and junior athletics teams' tradition of exemplary performance in elite global competitions over the years," the president said.

"We are committed to developing sports as a fully-fledged industry as part of our broader strategy for growing our economy and creating jobs for our youth," he added.

The four-day U-18 world championships brought together over 2,000 athletes and coaches from 131 countries and regions while Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Switzerland and defending champions United States announced their withdrawals from the games.

[ Editor: meng ]


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