Athletics Kenya has so far helped pay quarantine expenses and transport back home for five athletes who had arrived from India and Malaysia immediately the international flights were suspended.
AK president Jackson Tuwei on Wednesday disclosed that they might be facing challenges including knowing how many athletes are stranded in foreign countries but are liaising with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help.
Tuwei said they are also in touch with several Kenyan embassies in India, Malaysia and China among others to know the number of athletes held up in these countries owing to coronavirus lockdown.
Besides not knowing the exact number, Tuwei explained that some of the affected athletes have no proper travelling documents.
“While some have expired visas dating back to five years ago, there are also conditions that these countries put in place including mandatory testing before they leave to show that they are clean,” said Tuwei in a telephone interview.
Tuwei explained that before the government ordered that those willing to return from foreign countries must take care of their air tickets, five athletes had earlier cashed on the free flight offer to return; two from Indian and three from Malaysia.
They are Abigael Cherop, Gladi Kiptoo and Paul Eyanae from Malaysia and Daniel Kimeli and John Kipkorir from India.
“They were all quarantined and we managed to pay for their bills. Luckily enough, they didn’t have the disease. Most didn’t even have transport back home and we assisted,” said Tuwei.
Tuwei said that Kenya could be having over five athletes holed up in Far East, who need help.
“There is one in Kathmandu, India where he went for a marathon race in 2016 but never returned. I spoke to another athlete in Malaysia but we are doing the best we can to ascertain the number and help out,” said Tuwei.
“We have a few in Malaysia and more than one in India.
Tuwei said they are yet to know if the Kenya Airways plane that arrived in the country from London on Tuesday had Kenyan athletes on board.
Tuwei said one of the reason why they don’t know the exact number is that most of athletes going for minor races in Asia fail to get clearance from Athletics Kenya.
Kenya announced its Covid-19 first case on March 13 and would follow up with strict social protocol measures to contain the spread of the virus.
Before the first case, Kenya had on March 3 suspended flights from northern Italy with those arriving from South Korea and Iran directed to self-quarantine for 14 days.
However, the government would stop all international flights from March 25 after the country confirmed more cases.
Kenya had registered 581 cases, 190 recoveries and 26 deaths by yesterday while globally, the cases had hit 3,756, 284 with 259,436 deaths recorded against 1,258, 394 recoveries.
India had 49,391 confirmed cases, 14,183 recoveries and 1, 694 deaths.