NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 28 – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has vowed to support the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) towards Kenya hosting a successful IAAF World Under-18 Championship from July 12 -16 at the Safaricom Kasarani Stadium.
Speaking on Tuesday when launching the championship official website, the First Lady who is also the event patron, believes Kenya will host a world-class event despite six major nations withdrawing, citing security concerns.
“It is a historic moment for our country and the East Africa region. As patron I see the upcoming championship as a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the diverse talent of youth across the world. I am committed to do everything to ensure it succeeds,” the First Lady announced during the launch at the Kasarani Stadium.
“We look forward to demonstrating to the world how capable Kenya is in delivering a world class event and as we do that there is no doubt that we will receive many more hosting opportunities,” she added.
The website, www.wu18nairobi2017.com, became active after the launch and it will offer a comprehensive guide to spectators, media and officials, playing a huge role in publicising the event.
The First Lady underlined the importance of having the website four months to the event since it will come in handy especially to participants visiting the country for the first time.
She was impressed with the ongoing refurbishment at the competition and training facilities as well as the athletes’ village at the Kenyatta University, adding it will leave a lasting legacy after the event is done.
Her sentiments were echoed by Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts Hassan Wario who disclosed that Sh5bn has been injected for the five-day event.
“We have over 10 contractors working on different things at Kasarani and we have also a huge number of workers at the Kenyatta University. The IAAF has sent various inspectors to look at the work and the information we are getting is that we are on the right track,” Wario commented.
Meanwhile, Athletics Kenya president Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei is unperturbed despite six countries, including super powers United States and Great Britain announcing they will not send teams for the Nairobi Championship.
Tuwei is confident that with the launch of the website, more positive news around the safety and success of the championship will convince the countries to change their positions and those who were yet to make a decision convinced to come.
“Preliminary entries should be in by latest April 12 to indicate how many athletes and contingents from each country will come to Nairobi. By the 26th of June we should have the final list of everyone coming,” the Athletics Kenya supremo who is also the LOC chairman noted.
The championship will be in its final edition and the LOC is confident work of refurbishing the stadium and training facilities will be complete by the end of May.
“We are on course and everything is in check. Work has started at Kasarani and Kenyatta University and I am very confident that by June 1, we will be doing the first dry run to test all the facilities. We have received massive support from the government and the First Lady being here today is a huge boost for us,” LOC Chief Executive Officer Mwangi Muthee told Capital Sport.