Why Wario’s decision to outlaw Nock is popular but wrong

Why Wario's decision to outlaw Nock is popular but wrong
Why Wario's decision to outlaw Nock is popular but wrong

The decision to disband the National Olympics Committee-Kenya (Nock) has opened a fresh battle ground between an independent sport governing body that is supposed to operate without interference from the State and a Government keen to clamp down on the embarrassing mistreatment of the country’s team to the Rio 2016 Olympics.

According to the Olympics Charter section 3 (2), “The International Olympics Committee may recognise as NOCs national sports organisations, the activities of which are linked to its mission and role.

“The IOC may also recognise associations of NOCs formed at continental or world level. All NOCs and associations of NOCs shall have, where possible, the status of legal persons. They must comply with the Olympic Charter. Their statutes are subject to the approval of the IOC.”

That implies it is only the international body that has jurisdiction over entities such as Nock with only the Kuwait NOC standing suspended from the Olympics movement of the 206 such bodies worldwide although their athletes competed in Rio 2016 under the IOC flag.

In 2008, the Iraqi government announced it would form a temporary committee to develop legislation to form a new National Olympic Committee in the coming months after the state voted to freeze the activities of the executive running the organisation in the Middle East state.

IOC gave the nation a seven-day ultimatum to reverse the order with Olympics officials at the time saying, the decision by the Iraqi Cabinet was a “serious interference from the Iraqi government” and urged them to “respect the autonomy of the NOCI and to re-establish its legitimate office.”

Kenya faces a similar scenario with embattled Nock secretary general, Francis K Paul who was present when Wario disbanded the organisation saying they would write to the IOC at the earliest to inform them of the decision and go to court if they have to.

“Recognition by the IOC may be provisional or full. Provisional recognition, or its withdrawal, is decided by the IOC Executive Board for a specific or an indefinite period. The IOC Executive Board may determine the conditions according to which provisional recognition may lapse.

“Full recognition, or its withdrawal, is decided by the Session. All details of recognition procedures are determined by the IOC Executive Board,” the Charter states giving the power to take such action against any NOC to its supreme decision making organ, not Government.

Chapter 59 of the Charter clearly outlines the sanction available for violations of the Olympics Charter by NOCs.

“In the case of any violation of the Olympic Charter, the World Anti-Doping Code, or any other regulation, as the case may be, the measures or sanctions which may be taken by the Session, the IOC Executive Board or the disciplinary commission referred to under 2.4 below are:

“1.4 with regard to NOCs: a) suspension by IOC Executive Board; in such event, the IOC Executive Board determines in each case the consequences for the NOC concerned and its athletes; b) withdrawal of provisional recognition by the IOC Executive Board; c) withdrawal of full recognition; in such a case, the NOC forfeits all rights conferred upon it in accordance with the Olympic Charter; d) withdrawal of the right to organise a Session or an Olympic Congress,” the guidelines in the latest set of rules last amended in 2015 state.

The role of NOCs, Nock included is also well defined in the Charter.

“The NOCs promote the fundamental principles of Olympism at a national level within the framework of sports. NOCs are committed to the development of athletes and support the development of sport for all programmes and high performance sport in their countries. They also participate in the training of sports administrators by organising educational programmes,” the IOC underlines their roles in its mission statement.

-Fallen short-

The sordid surrounding where Team Kenya athletes were forced to sleep in by Nock officials. PHOTO/Waihiga Mwaura
The sordid surrounding where Team Kenya athletes were forced to sleep in by officials before returning home on Thursday. PHOTO/Waihiga Mwaura

On that count, the current Nock officials who are embroiled in scandal before, during and after the Rio 2016 Olympics have fallen short of expectations, opening a path for them to be answerable to the Government that is the biggest contributor to its activities.

But instead of taking such blanket action, exposing the Government to litigation and Kenya to an Olympics ban or any other sport whose international federations fall under the IOC umbrella, Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Hassan Wario should have targeted individuals accused of mismanagement and abuse of office as opposed to Nock as an entity.

In his announcement, the embattled Sports Minister quoted Article 25 of the Sports Act 2013 that gives him the powers to take such action in the interest of the public as he placed interim management of Nock on Sports Kenya.

He should have borrowed precedent from world athletics body, IAAF whose Ethics Board  suspended top Athletics Kenya (AK) officials accused of charges ranging from subverting the anti-doping process, bribery, embezzlement of sponsorship funds and bringing the sport into disrepute instead of outlawing the entire organisation.

What the Government needed to do in this case with mounting pressure on action to be taken against errant officials was to bring the issue to the attention of the IOC Executive Board for appropriate measures to be taken against individual Nock officials involved in the Rio 2016 fiasco since violations of the Charter can be proved.

Although there is a lot of public goodwill to see Nock officials swept out of office and its constitution changed to enhance democracy, an Olympics ban could come with the added baggage of the country missing out on other sports under the IOC umbrella.

Disbanding Nock is therefore, a popular decision feeding on the huge outcry over the Rio 2016 scandal but it might ultimately, prove to be a costly mess that could force Wario, who clearly did not consult widely before announcing the move, his job.

-The views expressed in this article are the authors’ alone, not Citizen Digital or any other property of Royal Media Services.

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