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Kenya resorts to diplomacy to stem U18 snubs

IAAF World Under 18 Local Organising Committee Chief Executive Officer Mwangi Muthee addressing the press on Tuesday, February 14, 2017.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed will lead a team of Kenyan parliamentarians on a shuttle diplomacy to implore countries to participate in the 2017 IAAF World Under-18 Championships to be hosted in Nairobi from July 12-16.

Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Chief Executive Officer, Mwangi Muthee on Tuesday said this was a measure which they wanted undertaken in the wake of withdrawals by countries from participating in the age group championships to be hosted in Africa for the first time.

This comes after six major counties, the United States of America, Britain, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland and Australia withdrew from the championship citing security concerns.

“After an inter ministerial and the Nairobi 2017 steering committee consultative meeting held at the Office of the President today (Tuesday), it was agreed that the Member of Parliaments be in the forefront in assuring countries expected to participate security,” the CEO declared.

Muthee said the shuttle diplomacy team led by CS Mohamed will consist of Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario and the Parliamentary Committee on Labour and Social Welfare which Cherangany Member of Parliament and Rio Olympics Team Kenya Captain Wesley Korir sits on.

IAAF U18 Championships Local Organizing Committee members at the press Briefing.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

The team will be tasked with reaching out prospective countries through visits and even host their ambassadors to meetings in discussing the situation and encourage them to attend the championships.

This will be the second time the services of Mohamed, a career diplomat will be sought to intervene in a crisis involving sports.

Last year, she was assigned by President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene over an impending sporting ban on Kenya for failing to meet the deadline and conditions by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Muthee confirmed that the recent meeting in Monaco last week saw 150 countries express their interest in participating in the World Championships in Nairobi.

“In general,  we were assured that across the World there was enthusiasm about coming to Nairobi from Europe, Asia, Oceania and Africa in their support for the LOC so far was widespread,” he said.

Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe addressing the press briefing on Tuesday, February 14, 2017.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Government spokesman Eric Kiraithe said security fears surrounding the event were misplaced and far from the truth and reality on the ground.

He assured safety to countries that are coming for the championships and told others to feel free at any time to consult the LOC.

“We will invite any country to come to evaluate the situation and inspect our facilities and infrastructure on our preparedness,” Kiraithe stated.

Kiraithe said Nairobi 2017 would prove Kenya’s potential as future hosts of leading IAAF events, including regular annual meets such as the Diamond League Grand Prix.