NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 2 – The Ministry of Sports has set up a team led by Principal Secretary Joe Okudo to prepare for resumption of sports activities in the country once the COVID-19 situation is dealt with, Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has stated.
Sports activities were halted in the country in March with all public facilities closed as the country battled to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
With European countries and a section of African nations slowly starting to open up their spaces for resumption of sports though under strict guidelines, Kenya has not been left behind with the Ministry constituting a machinery.
“We have constituted a team to look at it and they will be advising on when to open. The team is led by the PS and of course working closely with the Ministry of Health so that we ensure when we return we do so within safe parameters,” CS Amina said on Tuesday.
While all football league seasons have been cancelled, there is hope for some other sports. In rugby, the Kenya Cup was headed to the play-off stage and despite an earlier decision by the Union to cancel the season, clubs appealed and the decision was lifted.
The men and women hockey leagues were just getting started while the basketball league had been scheduled to start in April. In Athletics, the track season had just gunned off and last week, Athletics Kenya said they would be consulting with the government to set up a new calendar.
Kenya is set to host its first event since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic on June 11 when five athletes, anchored by 1500m World Champion Timothy Cheruiyot will compete against the Norwegian Ingebrigtsen brothers in a virtual race.
The Norwegian contingent will run in Oslo while Cheruiyot’s team will run at the Nyayo National Stadium where they have been training for the past one week.
Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa and Tunisia are among the first African countries to announce plans to resume sports with the COVID-19 situation slowly losing pace.
Amina spoke at the Nyayo National Stadium as she helped distribute food packages to women athletes from football, cricket, rugby and the Paralympics in partnership with Care Package foundation, run by former Cricket Kenya chief Jackie Jan Mohammed.
“It relieves some of the challenges they were facing of trying to meet some basic needs and we have got some good response with people coming on board. We would like to reach about 1,800 who are most vulnerable and so far we have reached almost 1,000,” said CS Amina.
Meanwhile, Jan Mohamed said they hoped to be doing the exercise every two weeks depending on whether they get increased funding from their partners.
“When the ministry approached us about athletes, I couldn’t say no. Sports is a passion I have had for a long time. What I am looking at is, depending on funding, we might turn around and tell the ministry that every two weeks, we will meet these same athletes, until we fight COVID-19,” she stated.
At the same time, Amina says they will continue with distribution of the monthly stimulus package to sportspeople, having started off last week with the Kenyan premier League players.
Amina says that so far, 1,300 athletes have received their first share of the 10,000 stimulus with 600 more having benefited over the weekend.
“We have received very good feedback and we want to thank the President for launching this package,” Mohamed noted.