Blow to Kenya as US becomes latest country to withdraw citing insecurity and terrorism

The US follows the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Switzerland who have already pulled out from the tournament.

Sydney McLaughlin and Brandee Johnson of the USA celebrate with flags after the Girls 400 Meters Hurdles Final at a past Youth Championships.

The USA Track and Field (USATF) took the drastic decision after a risk assessment for its delegation at the youth championships.

The US Department of State has given Kenya a crime and terrorism rating of ‘Critical’, the highest level possible and includes risks for all types of crime, from theft, violent crime to terrorism.

“Given the critical threat, the high cost associated with our team’s increased security needs and that the team would be composed of children, USATF will not select or travel a team to this event,” the USATF said in a statement.

The withdrawal is also seen as a major blow for the tournament itself as the USA are the defending champions and will not defend the title they won in 2015 which was held in Cali Colombia.

The USA won a total of 19 medals: 11 gold, 5 silver and five bronze to lift the overall title ahead of Kenya who registered 16 medals with 4 gold, five silver and 7 bronze.

Speed up operations

Last year, a delegation from the IAAF which visited the country told Kenya to speed up its preparations for the Under-18 Championships.

“A lot needs to be done here in Kenya for a successful hosting of the event. We are going to seek answers on when the demands and milestones set by the IAAF can be met. Kenya has a lot to do,” the delegation said.

However, last month, the IAAF approved the ongoing works on hostels at Kenyatta University that will be used as athletes' village for the championships.

IAAF's Head of Events Operations Carlo de Angeli and Head of Competitions Management Luis Saladie said they were satisfied with the rooms at the six blocks that will accommodate over 2,000 athletes and officials.

De Angeli said the unique concept of an athletes' village that Kenya has adopted, the first of its kind in IAAF events since the 2011 Daegu World Championships, will go a long way in leaving a lasting legacy.

"We are happy to see that some quality work is going on at the rooms and kitchen," said de Angeli after visiting the kitchen and some of the sample rooms at Nyayo hostel blocks. De Angeli said the rooms are up to standard.

High cost

"We don't expect to see something extravagant and we are happy that some of the teams expected like Germany have visited this place and are satisfied with it," said De Angeli.

The World Under-18 CEO Mwangi Muthee, who took the IAAF delegates on a tour of the village, said work at Kenyatta University will cost Sh 1.1 billion where the government has put in Sh 700million while Kenyatta University Sh 400 million.

On the progress at Kasarani, the main arena of the competition, Muthee disclosed that they have completed contractors evaluations following the government guidelines and regulations.

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