Government and athletics officials who mishandled Team Kenya at the Rio Olympics should be sanctioned and punished heavily, MPs have said.
The MPs spent over an hour in Parliament yesterday, debating the performance of the Kenyan team and pressed for changes in the management of athletics.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario, Kenya National Olympic Committee chairman Kipchoge Keino and other athletics managers came under fire, for a cavalier attitude in the management of the Kenyan athletes.
The lawmakers praised Kenyan athletes who did Kenya proud in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, but also tore into the officials whom they accused of frustrating the athletes and shaming the country in the eyes of the world.
They castigated cases of kits being diverted and athletes and officials failing to access facilities at the Olympicvillage. The MPs had scathing words for the officials for bungling the otherwise good outing by the Kenyan team.
“At 76, Mr Keino must accept that he must hand over the management of athletics to younger Kenyans. If what we saw in Rio is what is happening at the Kenya National Olympics Committee (Nock), then it is unfortunate. He has had his career, but it is time to accept that it is time to hand over,” said Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda), who moved a motion of adjournment to allow MPs debate Kenya’s performance in the games.
“When you hear stories of officials selling running kits, it is a big shame. When you hear a CS claiming he is a victim of cartels, when you look at the bureaucracy of athletics and you see people who have been there forever, it is a great shame for this country. Athletes are individuals who train under very severe circumstances, but they are not given the recognition that they deserve,” said Isaac Mwaura (nominated).
The Kenyan team bagged six gold medals, six silver and one bronze. It was one of the country’s best performances, which was, however, overshadowed by reports of mistreatment, corruption and officials stealing team kits.
The MPs demanded an inquiry into what happened, with Mr Wario coming under fire for allegedly sleeping on the job. MPs said he must bring a report to the House.
“I want to tell the CS that he must prepare a proper report to come and give to this House. We cannot allow our athletes to suffer while they are winning us medals. The CS must bring a proper explanation as to why such things happened in Rio. Athletes even failed to access their facilities,” said Johanna Ng’eno (Emurua Dikirr).
The House also called for an inquiry to find out what happened. “It is time for people like Kipchoge Keino to step aside and say their season is over and let a new generation take over. If we can ask IEBC to go home, even Nock must go home. Let us get fresh ideas. Thank you for bring honour to our county despite the management letting you down,” Ken Okoth (Kibra) told the athletes.
Cases of athletes running for other countries also came up, with MPs expressing concern that lack of motivation was to blame.
“It is sad when we see Kenyans winning for other countries. We need to invest more and give honour to our athletes. It is sad that those who do the hard part suffer while the joyriders are having a good time,” said Susan Musyoka (Machakos).
Following the uproar, the matter may now be taken up by the House Labour and Social Welfare committee, which will call witnesses to testify.
“When you see people being wooed by foreign countries to run for them, it is a shame,” added Mr Mwaura.
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter said: “We must petition Parliament to see what we can do for our athletes.”
Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North), however, urged for patience from Kenyans, saying the mismanagement should not overshadow the glory of winning.