NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11 – The Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani will be closed on March 16 for renovations ahead of the World Athletics Continental Tour and Under-20 Championship which are set for May and July respectively after the government approved a Sh332mn budget.
Sports Kenya Director General Pius Metto says works at the stadium will begin immediately with contractors already tendered and everything will be finalized by the end of April, in time for the Continental Tour.
“We have the budget already approved. There was only one condition which we were asked to meet, of opening an independent bank account which we have already done. We wrote to treasury for approval of the account and it has been approved. We will get back to the Sports Fund and they will release the monies,” Metto told Capital Sport.
Metto says both the stadium and the warm up track will be closed with the only accessible facilities over that duration being the hotel, aquatic arena and the indoor arena.
He also asserts that the Police Post constructed next to the warm up track in the build up to the World Under-18 Championship will be moved to a new location, with the structure set to be reverted to an ablution block and changing rooms.
The expected closure of the facility now all but confirms that Kenya’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Comoros which had been scheduled for March 25 will consequently be off.
“That match will not go on. As at now, that is the position we know of,” Sports Kenya chairman Fred Muteti further told Capital Sport.
With Kasarani set to be closed, booth Muteti and Metto have confirmed that the Nyayo National Stadium is set to be opened in the next two weeks to offer an alternative training and match venue.
The stadium has been closed for the last three years for never ending renovations but Muteti states that at the moment it is ‘95pc ready’.
“Nyayo is 95pc complete and in the next one week, we will be able to make an announcement on when it will be opened. We are doing some small final touches on the swimming pool and gymnasium and soon we will be able to move to Nyayo,” Muteti noted.
With Nyayo closed for the longest time and Kasarani limited in its use, sports, especially football has been forced to scramble for facilities outside Nairobi with Machakos, Narok and Kericho being the ‘saviors’.
But Nyayo’s opening will be a welcome relief for sportspeople especially Nairobi based football clubs which will set to earn a boost in revenue due to Nyayo’s centrality.
Meanwhile, Muteti says all will be ready in time for the Continental Tour. A team from Mondo will be in Nairobi to inspect the tartan track which was laid before the World Under-18 and they will recommend what to be done to better it.
The seating areas, media tribune, medical areas and technical official areas are also set to undergo facelifts.
At the same time Britain has confirmed it will be sending athletes for the Under-20 Championship after missing out on the World Under-18 in 2017 due to unfounded terror fears.
Officials from British Athletics on Wednesday visited the Kasarani Stadium and the athletes’ village at the Kenyatta University and have expressed satisfaction with the facilities.
“Kenya is very ready for this. If you walk through the facility as coach or an athlete and you know every box has been ticked then you are happy. Everything is so easy from going through warm up to the call room and the track to compete. Everything is thought out well and it is perfect,” said Trevor Painter, the British Athletics Junior Team Leader.
He added; “We will bring our strongest possible team and as long as coronavirus does not stop us we will be 100pc here and we will come to compete.”
He was accompanied in the tour by Team Manager Lorna Dwyer.