What you need to know:
- Namwamba was speaking Tuesday in Lobo Village in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County when he unveiled the air quality monitoring equipment which have been installed by Athletics Kenya
- Namwamba also announced that strict measures will be introduced to curb the rising number of doping cases among Kenyan athletes warning that those involved will be severely punished
Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has revealed plans to ensure Kenyan athletes travel on diplomatic passports for various international races.
Namwamba was speaking Tuesday in Lobo Village in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County when he unveiled the air quality monitoring equipment which have been installed by Athletics Kenya in conjunction with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP).
“Our athletes have been flying our flag high and they are the only ones apart from the President of Kenya who ensure the national anthem is played abroad due to their good performance. I will be presenting a proposal to cabinet after consulting with my counterpart in the Foreign Affairs ministry and the Immigration department,” said Namwamba.
Namwamba also announced that strict measures will be introduced to curb the rising number of doping cases among Kenyan athletes warning that those involved will be severely punished.
Namwamba noted that it had taken Kenya years to build a name as an athletics powerhouse and he won't allow few people to ruin it.
“As we launch the need for clean air I also want to warn those who are tainting Kenya’s image through doping that their days are numbered. We have built a name for many years and we can’t have a few individuals ruining that because we are an athletics powerhouse,” said Namwamba.
He hinted at a change in legislation to ensure anyone who is directly or indirectly involved in the vice is brought to book.
“We are going to introduce another law that will help us curb the menace and this must touch on the athletes, coaches, agents, doctors and all those who are involved in the practice. We'll include this as part of drug trafficking so that when one is caught, he or she has to be punished,” he added.
He lauded Athletics Kenya for being at the forefront in spearheading the Climate Change Action and challenged other sports federations to follow their example to make the environment better.
“This is part of the journey to COP27 Climate Change Conference 2022 which shall be held in Egypt on November 7-18 and the federation has shown a good example by leading the others in making sure the air is clean in any competition,” he said.
Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei said that the federation is committed to installing the air quality monitoring sensors in various competition venues as one way of improving the sport.
"We were the first federation to sign the climate action out of the 214 member federations in the world before the other three Oman, Serbia and Sweden followed suit. The sports fraternity should be in the forefront in championing for clean air," said Tuwei.
Uasin Gishu governor Jonathan Bii on his part urged the national government to complete the Kipchoge Keino Stadium and 64 stadium in Eldoret so that athletes can have good facilities to train on.
Namwamba promised to complete the stalled projects in the North Rift terming the region as a hotbed of athletics talent.
"My plan is to make sure the facilities are up and running, we'll make sure they are complete on time because athletes have suffered enough. I launched the renovation of Kipchoge Keino Stadium but up to date it is not complete. We are going to make sure we finalise the projects within a short period," said Namwamba.
UNEP Technical Air Quality expert Ngongang Wandji Danube said that besides climate change, air pollution is currently considered as the world’s largest environmental health risk.
“Reducing the levels of air pollutants can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory diseases both in adults and children. The United Nations has been a highly influential force within sports and environment space because they are interconnected,” said Danube.
According to Dr. Philip Osano, the Center Director, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Africa, he said that they are happy to collaborate with AK on air pollution and climate action.
They will also conduct the monitoring of air quality through the installation of air quality sensors in selected stadiums and venues used by athletes for competition and training to facilitate the collection of data and technical analysis onn air pollution to inform decisions and actions taken by Athletics Kenya and other sports agencies.
“We have installed four other sensors at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, Nyayo National Stadium, Kenya Wildlife Service in Nairobi and Nakuru Athletics Club in Nakuru County and we'll help the federation to ensure their races are held in a place where the air is conducive,” said Osano.
Two-time 1,500m Olympic champion Faith Chepng’etich, who attended the function said that athletes need clean air in training.
“I’m glad that the federation is at the forefront in making sure the air we train in is good and I want to congratulate them for being the first to sign the climate action agreement. Other federations should follow suit so that we can have all the 214 member federations commit themselves on the need for clean air,” said Chepng’etich.