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NZ pulls out of Kenya athletics champs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/02/2017

Security concerns mean New Zealand won't be fielding a team at the world under-18 athletics championships in Kenya later this year.

Britain, Australia, Canada and Switzerland are among other countries not attending the championships, scheduled for Nairobi in July.

The decision follows discussion with other athletics federations, input from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and information obtained from athletes and Athletics NZ staff recently in the region.

MFAT's status for Kenya is currently high risk, with kidnapping, hijacking, terrorism and violent crime among major concerns. MFAT is advising against all tourist and other non-essential travel to Nairobi.

Athletics New Zealand high performance director Scott Goodman says it is a disappointing decision, but there will be other international opportunities for that age group.

"Above all else, the safety of our young athletes, team support staff along with family and friends who would be travelling with the team, are our first priority," he said.

Goodman said the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, the Oceania area championships in Fiji and the Australian championships would all provide top competition for age-group athletes.

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