Backpedalling Nock bosses insist ‘We did it for Kenya’
Besieged national Olympics committee officials have admitted they agreed to back the new constitution to avoid being viewed as power hungry individuals on the eve of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) Board Meeting in South Korea.
Speaking separately to Citizen Digital on Wednesday, under fire National Olympics Committee-Kenya (Nock) Secretary General, Francis Kinyili Paul and James Chacha are hoping the decision to backtrack will spare the country IOC sanctions.
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The change of heart came after a series of Nock Executive Committee meeting chaired by Olympic Laureate, Dr. Kipchoge Keino from Friday when the IOC announced a financial freeze on national body.
Kenya will be on the agenda when the IOC Board Meeting starts in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Thursday through to Friday where they will consider imposing sanctions on the country as a whole including an Olympics ban or punish individual Nock officials for defying the international body.
Speaking a day after, a day after he signed and sent a circular from the Nock Executive to its affiliates calling for an Extra Ordinary meeting on March 28 to adopt the new constitution Paul said the turnaround was aimed at appeasing the IOC.
His President and retired two-time Keino, declined to comment on the U-turn on the constitution the Nock Executive worked to defeat its adoption last week saying he would only make his remarks after the IOC Board verdict on Kenya.
“We want to live a legacy and we don’t want to make it difficult for anybody. We want to carry out the procedure until the end. After the approval we are going to issue a notice of the date of next election we get done and everybody goes home.
“We shall wait for IOC’s decision after their meeting in South Korea because we can’t decide for them. We don’t want to speculate on anything,” Paul told Chamgei FM.
The IOC froze funding to Nock last Friday after the road map it consented to for Nock reforms that included passing of a new constitution was scuttled after the draft failed to garner a two-thirds majority at last week’s Extraordinary Meeting when in a vote that ended 19-13 in its favour.
Two IOC observers in the meeting left in displeasure following the outcome of the vote with Paul saying in his circular on Tuesday the next balloting will be done by a ‘show of hands’.
Paul added that they have followed the procedure needed by IOC to carry out the meeting on March 28th.
“We have given them notice of 14 days that is the procedure because you cannot use any short cuts. The constitution states you must issue a fourteen day notice for an extra ordinary General Assembly and that is what we have done,” Paul added.
Nock Deputy Secretary General Chacha added the change of heart resulted from their resolve to put Kenya first.
“What we are doing is for the sake of our beloved country. Obviously the nation is more important than all of us. That’s solely why we came together and decided to call for another special general meeting where we would present the same constitution once again,” he said.
Chacha expressed hope that the new constitution would be adapted but warned Kenyans not to get their hopes up since there was no guarantee that a consensus will be reached.
“No matter how bad or good it is we are pessimistic that it’s going to go through but you have to keep in mind that this is a fair world where everyone is allowed to independently make decisions,” he proclaimed.
The Nock boss watered down fears of an IOC ban during the board meeting in South Korea.
“What happened was that the change could not garner the two- thirds majority to go through. We allowed all genuine candidates to vote as stipulated in the constitution which is why I don’t see the reason we should be blamed.
“I’m sure they will not ban us since we didn’t commit any crime or wrong,” Chacha claimed.
He affirmed the decision to withdrawal funding from the IOC would adversely affect the operations of the Nock secretariat.
“This move will affect several athletes who are on scholarship as well as coaches and will definitely bar us from doing our technical courses. Although when I look at it I don’t see the reason why they should impose such decision,” Chacha lamented.
Should the next Extra Ordinary meeting resolve to adopt the new constitution, it will pave way for the setting of a date for fresh Nock elections that could spell the end of the long reign of senior Executives led by Keino.
The Nock officials were blamed for a series of problems which faced Kenya’s athletes in Rio Olympics with four denying charges in court in regards to the scandal.
Paul, vice-presidents Ben Ekumbo (first) and Pius Ochieng (second) as well as Rio 2016 Head of Mission, Stephen arap Soi denied charges ranging from theft of cash, embezzlement of resources and stealing kit from sponsors Nike belonging to Team Kenya.
-Additional reporting by Mwangi Githinji