INSTEAD of cowering after recent spate of terrorism in their countries, French president Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May are standing with sporting organisations and are both expected to attend tomorrow’s [Tuesday] football match at the Stade de France, between the two countries.
A minute’s silence will be held prior to France’s home friendly with England as a tribute to the victims of recent terror attacks in England, the French Football Federation (FFF) confirmed on Monday.
In addition to the minute’s silence, the English national anthem will be played after that of France, in a reversal of the usual protocol.
The English Football Association had paid a similar tribute prior to the team’s last meeting, a friendly at Wembley in November 2015 that was played just days after a wave of terror attacks in Paris that left 130 dead.
United against terrorism … Theresa May (left) and Emmanuel Macron
Eight people were killed in an attack in London earlier this month, including three French nationals, while a suicide bombing in Manchester on May 22 left 22 people dead after an Ariana Grande concert.
But in a completely unexpected move Japan became the latest country to withdraw from the World Under-18 Championships due for July 12-16 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, Kenya local newspaper, “Daily Nation” reported on Monday afternoon.
The move follows in the footsteps of champions USA, New Zealand, Britain, Australia, Canada and Switzerland who also pulled out citing security concerns.
Japan boys in Kampala, Uganda for the recent World Cross Country Championships … country not represented at IAAF WU18 Championships in Nairobi, July 12-16
Preparations are in top gear as Kenya’s Local Organising Committee readies to host close to 2,000 athletes from about 131 countries who have indicated they will attend. These include France and Germany who have already had reconnaissance visits to Nairobi to plan for the stay and training of their teams.
The Kenyan LOC said they were deeply disappointed by some of the countries that did not show interest in coming to Nairobi. In contrast, some of those stating away have made recent sporting visits to East Africa including USA, Britain, Australia and Japan to next door Uganda to attend the World Cross Country Championships and USA taking part in last week’s World Cricket League Division III competition in Kampala.
The IAAF President Seb Coe with girls of ‘Team USA’ in Kampala, Uganda for the World Cross Country Championships. The US are not sending a team to Nairobi for the IAAF World U18 Championships, July 12-16
Selection of the ‘Team Kenya’ squad, expected to be as large as 120 and hot favourites to win the championships takes place at the National Stadium in Nairobi tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a high powered delegation including IAAF Chief Executive Officer, Olivier Gers, will be in Nairobi on the two days, to make final inspection of Kenya’s preparedness to the championships.
The Nairobi championships will be the last WU18 level competition after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decided to do away with the event retaining only one youth event, the World U20 Championships which the Kenya LOC says would love to host as soon as possible. The next edition of this will be in Tampere, Finland in 2018.
[Above and below] partners of IAAF, Mondo, tartan track and flooring experts, today [Monday] began laying on the blue track at the Moi International Sports Centre’s Kasarani Stadium in readiness for the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi hosts July 12-16
Meanwhile the French football organization, FFF, also revealed in a statement that the teams will run out to the song by Manchester band Oasis ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, which will be played by the musicians and choir of France’s Republican Guard.
The words of the English anthem ‘God Save the Queen’ will be displayed on the big screens of the Stade de France to encourage home supporters to sing along — just as English fans joined in with ‘La Marseillaise’ on an emotional night in London in November 2015.
The French anthem was also played before English Premier League games the following weekend.
‘Team Kenya’ hopefuls for the IAAF World U18 Championships compete at the pre-trials at Kipchoge Keino Stadium, Eldoret County on May 25-26. The team selection is tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/wu18nairobi2017
“I encourage those who will be at the stadium — if the English anthem is sung, everyone should join in,” France’s Blaise Matuidi said at a press conference on Sunday.
Before the minute’s silence on Tuesday evening, the two sets of players will mix together in a sign of unity, rather than face each other in their opposing line-ups.
France has been on heightened security alert following a wave of attacks across the country over the last couple of years and the level of alert in the United Kingdom was raised in the wake of the recent terrorist outrages.
The IAAF announces on Monday that it’s 30 days to go to Nairobi…
On Monday there was a large security presence as the England team trained in the plush Parisian suburb of Croissy-sur-Seine.
As well as a large police presence, journalists attending manager Gareth Southgate’s press conference were frisked and bags were searched on entry.
– Additional reporting by Correspondents and Agencies