NAIROBI, Kenya, June 4 – Youth Affairs and Sports minister Professor Hellen Sambili has dismissed claims made by Athletics Kenya (AK) that the government is not endorsing the 17th Africa Athletics Championships to be held in Kenya next year.
Sambili said at a hastily assembled press conference on Thursday that she was “shocked and dismayed” by the comments made by AK chairman Isaiah Kiplagat on Wednesday that the government to fund the tournament.
“We have committed to provide Sh200 million for the championships and are in the process of sourcing for it using the laid down government procedures,” said Sambili.
It emerged that at a meeting held between the ministry and the sport’s governing body, it was said that the Sh30 million needed to start the secretariat would not be available by May and June since it was culmination of the financial year.
“My permanent secretary (Kinuthia Murugu) advised that the money for the championship will be disbursed as from July, 2009 which is the relevant financial year for the event,’ said Sambili.
“What I would have expected AK to do, being the convenors of the event, would have been to find resources to start off the Secretariat and set other activities rolling before Governmnet funding comes as from July,” she added.
Sambili was optimistic that Kenya will stage the championships and assured AK that the government will do everything in its power to make sure that the championships are held.
“All is not lost and I reiterate our commitment to help AK host a successful event in April or may next year,” said Sambili.
The minister also promised that the matter will be brought before the cabinet as soon as possible.
On Wednesday, Kiplagat had accused the ministry officials from not singing from the same hymn sheet dealying the preparations of Africa’s athletics showpiece event.