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Huge blow for Kenyan athletes as EU travel ban continues

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After a dark season that has seen them lose massive earnings from the international circuit due to cancellation of global sporting events owing to the coronavirus pandemic, Kenyan athletes face another blow.

Kenya is among the nations yet to be cleared to travel into Schengen states when the European Union (EU) opens its borders on July 1.

The Kenya athletes will be hit hard should the country continue to remain on the Covid-19 compliace “blacklist” when the 2020 Diamond League circuit resumes in August.

Kenya is not among 54 world countries that will benefit from the reopening of the EU borders from July 1.

Things haven’t been made any easier as Kenya’s Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the country with 6,190 cases having been reported with 144 deaths and 2,013 recoveries by Monday.

However, athletes from Kenyan neighbours Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda are among the African countries who will be allowed to enter the Schengen states from July 1.

Should the ban be sustained, then Kenya’s world 1,500 metres champion Timothy Cheruiyot will not be able to defend his title alongside former champion Elijah Manang’ oi, among others, during the Monaco leg of the Diamond League on August 14.

Monaco will signal the resumption of Diamond League action.

More Kenyan athletes are likely to miss the Stockholm meet on August 23 in Sweden and if EU doesn’t clear Kenya then the athletes will also miss Brussels leg on September 4 in Belgium since the Lausanne meet on September 2 will be an exhibition event.

The other event lined up in Europe are British Grand Prix on September 12 in Gateshead and Rome on September 17 in Italy.

A number of Diamond League meets have been cancelled owing to novel coronavirus among them Paris and Eugene, Oregon.

The Paris meeting had originally been pushed back from June until September 6 but was ultimately called off by organisers due to doubts over global travel and a lack of time to prepare a “world-class international event”.

The Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, scheduled for October 4, was also axed from the programme, with restrictions still in place to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in the west coast state.

According to sources of Euronews, EU officials failed to agree on a common list of the countries that would definitely be banned from entering the block upon the border reopening but managed to create a list of the countries with a better epidemiological situation, the citizens of which will be able to enter Europe by the end of next week.

The same sources have also confirmed that citizens of Brazil, Qatar, the US and Russia will only be able to enter Europe at a later date when the epidemiological situation in these countries improves.

“The European Union has an internal process to determine from which countries it would be safe to accept travellers,” EU Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said last Thursday, adding that its decisions are “based on health criteria.”

On June 11, the Commission presented its recommendation on the reopening of internal Schengen borders on June 15, so that Europeans can travel within the borderless area freely, just as they did pre-pandemic.

At the same time, the Commission recommended that the Member States should start allowing third-country nationals to enter the EU starting from July 1, gradually and partially, based on the epidemiological situation in each third-country.

Nationals of the following countries are listed in this draft list of nations allowed into the EU from July 1:

Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Australia, Bahamas, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominica, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mauritius, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Paraguay, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Serbia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vatican City, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia.

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