Wario, Amina to lead Nairobi 2017 World U18 lobby team

Sports Cabinet Secretary Dr. Hassan Wario addressing journalists in Nairobi on August 25, 2016 when he disbanded ...
Sports Cabinet Secretary Dr. Hassan Wario addressing journalists in Nairobi on August 25, 2016 when he disbanded the National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK) over the Rio Olympics fiasco and transferred their responsibilities to the Sports Kenya on interim basis. Photo/www.sportpicha.com

Kenya will turn on her top Government officials and diplomats to lobby countries in a bid to stem the running boycott of the Nairobi 2017 IAAF World Under-18 Championships over security fears.

Organisers also confirmed world athletics governing body President, Lord Sebastian Coe would visit the country a month before the event to access the progress made in preparing for the track and field age showpiece.

Defending champions America became the sixth and highest profile withdrawal from the July 12-16 event following in the steps of New Zealand, Britain, Australia, Canada and Switzerland.

Speaking on Tuesday, LOC chairman, Mwangi Muthee said they would assemble a team to sell the last edition of the biennial global track and field showpiece to the outside world led by Cabinet Secretaries, Amina Mohammed (Foreign Affairs) and Dr. Hassan Wario (Sports, Culture and the Arts).

“With contemporary nations who made it to Kenya plus top dignitaries, we will mobilise them for the event. We want every stone turned,” Muthee told the media after a Joint Executive Committee meeting for the event in Nairobi.

Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta dispatched a high powered Government delegation led by Amina and Wario to petition the World Anti-Doping Agency to rescind its decision to declare Kenya non-complaint with the WADA Code following the doping crisis that threatened the participation of the track and field team at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

According to the plan, the high powered Nairobi 2017 lobby team is expect to visit the nations that pulled out of the event in a bid to convince them to rescind their decisions despite the fact they have declared they would not prepare their teams to attend the IAAF event.

Speaking alongside, Government spokesperson, Eric Kiraithe gave assurances on security that has been the sticking bone by the countries that pulled out of Nairobi 2017 especially at a time when Kenya is gripped with the August General Election fever.

“We can guarantee full-fledged security. I appeal to political parties to be ambassadors of selling the nation rather than scaring away people. We will show everyone that if Kenya can do it, then others too can. It will be great,” Kiraithe told Citizen Digital.

“We have had bigger names visit the countries like the Pope and (former US President) Barrack Obama. All these people had only good things to talk about the country after they left. This is another chance to sell the Kenya,” the spokesperson added.

The LOC chairman further promised they would meet the 40-day ultimatum given to them by the JEC that comprises other arms of Government that have pulled resources in staging the first ever global track and field meeting in Kenya.

“During the closed-door meeting, the JEC anonymously declared that work be started immediately. I’m happy to tell Kenyans that despite being given 40 days to have everything in place, I’m sure we will be done ahead of schedule,” Muthee affirmed.

He announced all contractors were already on the ground to put the necessary facilities including running lanes, the track, warm-up areas and offices for technical staff by the end of May of the start of June.

“The IAAF President will also be here a month early,” Muthee proclaimed.

The Government ministries of Sports, Culture and the Arts, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industrialisation, Tourism, Interior and National Coordination as well as Transport and Infrastructure have representatives in the Nairobi 2017 JEC.

The First Lady, Ms Margaret Kenyatta is the Patron of the Nairobi 2017 IAAF World Under- 18.

“Every ministry has showed absolute commitment. It has helped us a lot in our preparations as it has made things easier. Now, the only thing we are asking for is the support of our fellow Kenyans,” Muthee affirmed.

-Report by Mwangi Githinji

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