Huge week ahead for Kenyan sport

President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) chats with Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed during the officially reopening of the refurbished Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi on September 26, 2020.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • NTV is the host broadcaster and our crew will certainly gain a lot from Saturday’s production especially with several experts flying in to make sure world class standards are sustained, something the Nation Media Group is always aligned to.
  • After Saturday’s action at Nyayo National Stadium, the NTV team will switch to marathon mode for another gigantic production as the Kenyan rights holders for the London Marathon.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday decreed that I can now be admitted to the bar and enjoy my Tusker until 10pm, with an allowance of one hour to stagger home before the extended, 11pm nationwide curfew sets in.

The Head of State’s pronouncement is confirmation that we are slowly getting out of the woods and that, as long as we behave responsibly, the Covid-19 scourge will most certainly be a thing of the past.

The government’s cautious optimism has been a source of great confidence and admiration from the international community. President Kenyatta’s announcement comes in timely fashion with Nairobi preparing to host the Kip Keino Classic, a round of the World Athletics Continental Tour.

With Saturday’s programme at the Nyayo National Stadium concluding at 6pm, the amended curfew hours will afford athletes, the limited spectators, officials and media involved in the day-long competition to safely make their way back to homes and hotels.  

Limited number of fans

More importantly, the Kip Keino Classic will be good demonstration to the world that Kenya is open for business and is capable of safely welcoming global visitors in safe fashion.

It’s reassuring that organisers are considering a limited number of fans who will be socially-distanced and who will also go through the stringent procedures prescribed by the Ministry of Health along with World Athletics to guard against the possible spread of the coronavirus.

Just hours after the Kip Keino Classic, elite Kenyan runners, led by world marathon record holders and defending champions Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei, will line up for the London Marathon from 7.15am, once again placing Kenya on the global map through sport.

Nigerian sprinter Usheoritse Itsekiri who will be in Nairobi for the Kip Keino Classic.

Photo credit: Pool

Both the Kip Keino Classic and London Marathon offer huge opportunities for the government to also shore up tourist numbers given that the beauty and splendour of our great nation will be flighted by global television stations to illustrate our athletes’ abode.

The fact that London Marathon organisers resorted to contacting Stanstead-based Oryx Jet Executive Travels to chartered a Boeing 737-500 that transported Kenya’s elites to London on Sunday night demonstrates the special place the world of sport holds for our athletes.

Special commendation must go to the Local Organising Committee of the Kip Keino Classic, under Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei for keeping their eye on the price despite numerous challenges along the way.

Along with the indefatigable Meet Director — Iowa State University Hall of Famer Barnaba Korir — the organisers are on line to delivering one of Africa’s greatest track and field competitions.

Lots of hard lessons have been learnt in the process, with credit going to the Ministry of Sport, through Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Principal Secretary Joe Okudo, for negotiating funds for the meeting from the Ministry of Finance at a time sports financing was the least of Treasury’s priorities, especially given the myriad of challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

With athletes arriving from Wednesday, led by Nigerian 100 and 200 metres national champion Usheoritse Itsekiri, we are certainly in for a huge treat.

Another benefit of hosting the Continental Tour is the legacy it will bequeath the host nation, which includes exposure for technical personnel, including broadcasters.

NTV is the host broadcaster and our crew will certainly gain a lot from Saturday’s production especially with several experts flying in to make sure world class standards are sustained, something the Nation Media Group is always aligned to.

After Saturday’s action at Nyayo National Stadium, the NTV team will switch to marathon mode for another gigantic production as the Kenyan rights holders for the London Marathon.

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Having signed in with a touch of beer, I must sign off with a word of caution:

Drink responsibly, even after President Kenyatta’s (sort of) carte blanche.

Excessive consumption of alcohol is certainly harmful to your health.

emakori@ke.nationmedia.com