What you need to know:
- There’s no doubt in my mind that these appointments are merited and not a reward for sycophancy
The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which I was privileged to cover, is best remembered for all the wrong reasons in Kenya.
While Rio proved to be our second best outing at the Olympics after 2008 Games in Beijing in terms of medals haul, Kenya’s biggest scandal at a global sporting competition also happened at the last edition of the Olympic Games.
What would later be dubbed the Rio Fiasco by the Kenyan media exposed how more than 250 joyriders travelled to Rio to sunbathe and have a time of their lives on the sunny beaches of Copacabana using resources meant for the athletes, their coaches and managers.
It got worse. Also exposed was the massive embezzlement of resources, including sports kit for athletes who also had to go with unpaid allowances even as they broke sweat to fly the country’s flag high.
It’s a miracle that in the face of such hardships our gallant athletes performed extremely well in Rio, perhaps solely driven by the love for their country.
In the fullness of time, the masterminds of the scandal were exposed, arrested and arraigned in court. Among those adversely mentioned was the then Cabinet Secretary for Sports Hassan Wario and a number of top officials of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K).
In one absurdly comical incident, an official was arrested at his residence where several cartons of stolen kit and apparel meant for the athletes were fished out from every nook and cranny.
In short, the Rio Fiasco easily ranks as Kenya’s most embarrassing moment at the Olympic Games. But the situation could have easily been averted with proper planning and the involvement of all key stakeholders – including the government, Nock and the media – in Team Kenya’s preparations for the Games.
Which is why I consider this week a great one for Kenyan media following the appointment of four senior sports editors into two key committees that will lay the groundwork in Kenya’s preparation for the Olympic Games which will be held from 23 July to 8 August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan and the Paralympic Games due in the same city between 24 August and 5 September 2021.
It’s laudable that Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, in her wisdom, saw it fit to appointment Nation Sports Editor Elias Makori, a veteran of countless global sporting events, Citizen TV Sports Editor and SJAK Secretary General Mike Okinyi alongside Standard newspaper Sports Editor Robin Toskin to the Central Management Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, all in the capacity of Media Liaison.
Meanwhile, my good friend Alex Isaboke, who is Capital FM’s Sports Editor and the Treasurer of Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK), will be part of a high-powered Steering Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
I’m convinced these appointments are all well-deserved and that the inclusion of members of the fourth estate in these two crucial committees will add value to Kenya’s preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
There’s no doubt in my mind that these appointments are merited and not a reward for sycophancy, as one cynical sports journalist claimed on social media.
There was also the good news of the appointment of veteran journalist John Nene of the BBC as the Director of Public Relations and Communications of the World Africa Boxing Association (Waba).
Congratulations to the five gentlemen, but the hard work begins now.