Media corps covering Rio 2016 were not spared the mess

Media corps covering Rio 2016 were not spared the mess
Nathan Gebrselassie (centre) son of retired two time Olympics and quadruple world champion, Haile Gebrselassie (centre) poses with Citizen TV’s Waihiga Mwaura (right) and Radio Citizen’s Phillip Muchiri on the sidelines of Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil. PHOTO/Courtesy

Poor dissemination of information related to Team Kenya during the Rio 2016 Olympics was the biggest challenged faced by local journalists who travelled to Brazil to cover the Summer Games.

This is according to the yet-to-be released report of the Rio 2016 Olympics Probe Committee that was appointed to look into the scandal that marred the country’s best ever performance at the quadrennial showpiece.

The reports castigates the National Olympics Committee-Kenya (Nock) for having a poor media strategy in place with only one Media Liaison Officer (MLO), Peter Angwenyi, appointed to undertake the enormous task of maximising positive coverage in the mass media without paying for it directly through advertising.

This is besides the fact Kenya travelled to the Olympics on the back of damaging doping allegations against its most prized asset- the track and field team- that won the country all her medals in Brazil.

Angwenyi’s burden was amplified when the only Press Attache with the team and veteran sports journalist, Isaac Omulo Okoth, had his accreditation revoked by Nock for allegedly publishing a story in an international news agency to the effect that Kenya’s athletics Team Manager, Major (Rtd) Michael Rotich had been ejected from the Olympics.

“It was practically impossible for Mr Angwenyi to cover all the 10 media centres at the competition venues that involved Kenya,” the report added.

Kenya had five fully accredited journalists who were allowed at the mixed zone where the country’s athletes were expected to be available for post competition interviews.

“It’s the duty of the MLO to ensure the athletes are available for interviews with the Kenyan media given the priority which did not happen on many occasions. The same happened before the races due to poor coordination where some athletes were no available for pre race briefing.

“This was contrary to countries like Jamaica and USA who had designated MLOs who ensured Jamaican media had first access to their athletes before and after the races,” the Probe Committee underscored.



The report accused Angwenyi, a former elected Public Relations Officer with Athletics Kenya of ‘owing more loyalty to Nock’ from the way he gave information on cases involving the ejecting of Rotich and sprints coach John Anzrah from the Games.

Besides the poor media planning on the part of Nock, the report established the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts had sent two members from their Communication Department who were not accredited hence they could not access the competition, training venue and the Olympic village.

It also found out the duo did not enjoy full per diem and allowances as some had to do with the daily expenses provisions that were as high as Ksh40,000 per day.

“With too many Government officials, this might have clouded the importance of a well briefed Ministry communication team travelling,” the report emphasised.

Among its recommendations is the establishment of a fully-fledged Communications Department working under the MLO at future global events.

“Those involved should be seasoned media experts with a fine grasp of the Olympic events and also with the Kenyans athletes. They should be competent enough to record videos audios and file print copy for print and electronic platforms.

“Social media should be a huge priority; the Steering Committee must ensure the official accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and Snapchat pages are regularly updated to make sure the information is readily available. This will attract the younger generation of fans to support Team Kenya,” it added.

Media training should also be done for technical officials, federation officials and coaches so that they are able to dispense information well to local and international media while athletes who refuse to speak to the media should be reprimanded by the teams management.

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Story By John Kyanda
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