Member of Parliament for Cherangany Wesley Korir has slammed the government and the Ministry of Sports for their silence over the continued withdrawal of more countries from the IAAF World U18 championship scheduled to take place in Nairobi in July 12 to 16.
In his statement Korir states that the President and his Cabinet should spare the country the embarrassment of the event being watered down and reassure the rest of the world that Kenya will host a very successful and secure event in July.
“His Excellency the President should lead in wiping away any fears that the insecurity in Somalia will have an impact on the championships in Nairobi, or that the electioneering period will visit misery on the athletes and fans at the championship.”
“This will help avoid more withdrawals and offer a sense of comfort and security.”
With nearly five months to the competition already six countries have opted out amid security concerns ahead of the 2017 General elections set for August.
Great Britain, Canada, Switzerland, and Austria last year withdrew their teams. Early this year New Zealand withdrew their teams from the championships among other things citing the “unpredictable security situation in Kenya”.
This week, the United States of America, the world’s most powerful sporting nation too withdrew their youth team from the July championship, with reports saying they had raised their security appraisal of Kenya to “critical.”
“What worries us is that with all these withdrawals, there has not been a single word of reassurance or security guarantee from government authorities, most significantly the ministries of Sport and Interior”.
Korir states that “we have what it takes as just last year, Kenya was able to host, without incident, various global dignitaries, including the immediate former President of the United States of America Barack Obama, His Holiness Pope Francis and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.”
Kenya also hosted several international conferences that attracted global dignitaries, including the TICAD Summit between Japanese investors and Heads of State and leading business personalities from Africa.
“The ball is squarely on the government’s court to save the nation from the embarrassment of a failed final edition of the IAAF World Under-18 Championships.”
Korir has also appeals to the government to crack the whip on government departments dragging their feet in the preparations for this iconic youth championship.
“It is disturbing that while monies apportioned for these championships were approved months ago, most members of committees and sub-committees organizing these championships under the LOC are yet to be paid a single shilling of their allowances despite putting in over one year of hard work.”
“Besides finance, the government has the key responsibility of assuring the rest of the world that Kenya is indeed safe and that we have what it takes to host these young sportsmen and women, the stars of tomorrow, without incident.”
“The government’s continued silence over the recent withdrawals and slow pace of delivery of these championships is a slap in the face of hundreds of Kenyan, and indeed global, athletes, coaches and other officials who are spending hours on end to prepare physically and mentally to compete in Nairobi between July 12 and 16”.