NAIROBI, KENYA, Aug 25 – Kenya faces a ban from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after Hassan Wario, the Sports, Arts and Culture Cabinet Secretary disbanded the National Olympic Committee of Kenya on Thursday afternoon following Team Kenya’s mismanagement at the recently concluded Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
According to Chapter Two, Article 16 of the Olympic Charter which Wario held as he announced his decision, members of the IOC are independent and should not be influenced by the government.
“Members of the IOC will not accept from governments, organizations, or other parties, any mandate or instructions liable to interfere with the freedom of their action and vote,” the Olympic movement charter reads.
In disregard of the charter, Wario said he made the decision due to increased public pressure from how the team was treated at the Olympics.
“These allegations on NOCK pose an immense threat that will adversely affect the stability and reputation of the Olympic Games in this country and thus detrimental to the interest of this sporting disciple in Kenya,” Wario said as he announced the decision, pegged on the 2013 Sports Act.
He also announced that Sports Kenya will now take over the role and constituted an eight-person committee to probe whatever happened in Rio.
But just minutes after Wario announced the decision and walked away without taking questions from a packed press conference room, NOCK Secretary General Francis K. Paul who was just a yard away from Wario when he was announcing said they will be staying put.
“We are not a government parastatal and the minister cannot just disband us,” a furious, usually soft spoken FK said.
“I don’t think the CS has powers to disband NOCK. If he does that will be termed as government interference and it means the country will be banned from participating in the Olympics,” added the NOCK Secretary General.
“We will inform the IOC and wait for their response. We will go to court if necessary. We are not going to vacate office. We don’t occupy any government premises. We pay rent for our own office,” FK added.
The IOC will most definitely view this as government interference and might flex its muscles on the country, a decision that might affect athletes dependent on the IOC’s sponsorship like swimmer Tallisa Lanoe.
This is the same wrath that befell Kuwait after they were suspended from the Rio Olympics, for a second time in five years, for government interference. Its nine athletes participated as neutral competitors, matching under the Olympics flag in the opening ceremony.
The Kuwaitis were also banned in 2010, but were reinstated just before the 2012 games in London, over the same issue.
Ghana, Panama and India have also faced similar wraths from the IOC over government interference.
On the investigations into what really happened in Rio, FK said he alongside the Chief de Mission Stephen Arap Soi and the games’ CEO James Chacha will be ready to give any information to the authorities if summoned.
Wario was summoned at the Directorate of Criminal Investigation on Wednesday morning to give an account of the happenings in Brazil.