Olympics-Kenya says pre-Olympics training camp in Kurume to go ahead

FILE PHOTO: Athletes exercise in the early morning in the sports ground of the University of Eldoret in western Kenya, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya still plans to hold a pre-Olympics training camp in Kurume, its Olympics committee said on Thursday, a day after announcing the Japanese city had pulled out of hosting them over COVID-19 concerns.

Kenya's Olympics committee said on Wednesday that Kurume officials had told them that the city was withdrawing from hosting the pre-Olympics training camp as infections had spread rapidly there since mid-April creating a critical situation.

Francis Mutuku, secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, told Reuters that the camp was back on.

"As of today, the information we have as of now is that we are on," he said in a telephone interview.

Mutuku said Team Kenya plans to fly to Kurume on July 5 to set-up camp in the city.

Japan's embassy in Kenya said in an emailed statement that news of the cancellation was "erroneously reported".

"Kurume City has been and is continuously working to ensure that all the necessary arrangements are in order to receive the Kenyan athletes," said Yoko Onishi, Director of the Japanese Information and Culture Centre at the embassy.

Onishi said that Kurume's mayor Tsutomu Okubo confirmed at a press conference on Thursday that his city would continue to conduct thorough preparations for receiving the Kenyan athletes and would pay special attention to COVID-19 protocols.

The Olympics are scheduled to begin on July 23 but the pandemic has disrupted preparations, with more than 100 municipalities scrapping plans to host teams from abroad.

Games organisers have insisted the Olympics will be held safely though most Japanese want the event cancelled or postponed again.

(Reporting by Omar Mohammed in Nairobi, additional reporting by Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Editing by Toby Davis)

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