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Armenia won't send athletes to CIS Games due to COVID-19 concerns


(Reuters) - Armenia will not send athletes to the first Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Games in the Russian city of Kazan in September due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The landlocked South Caucasus country, which has recorded more than 29,000 cases of the virus and over 500 deaths, became the first nation to withdraw from the Games which will feature competition in 22 sports for athletes aged between 14 and 23.

"We deeply regret to say that due to the current situation in the world our country will be unable to participate in the CIS Games," Armenia's Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Artur Martirosyan said.

The inaugural Games of the CIS - a grouping of former Soviet Republics - was scheduled to be held in Kazan from Aug. 20-27 but organisers on Monday pushed the event back to Sept. 4-11 due to the health situation.

Belarus, another ex-Soviet country, said on Tuesday it will send a 390-member delegation to Kazan.

"Athletes miss competitions," Belarusian Sport and Tourism Minister Sergei Kovalchuk said. "They all dream of meeting their peers and competing. The CIS Games will give them a great opportunity to do so."

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Ed Osmond)

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