Organisers of September’s Kip Keino Classic are pulling out all stops to ensure Nairobi’s leg of the World Athletics Continental Tour runs seamlessly despite the global challenges visited by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo assured of the government’s commitment to making the September 26 meeting a success, saying it’s all systems go as his ministry lays ground for what will be Kenya’s biggest senior track and field meeting, in terms of global appeal.
At the same time, the Ethiopian government says it will mobilise its top athletes to sign up for the Nairobi meet “because it is important for the region and the continent.”
Ethiopia’s ambassador to Kenya, Meles Alem, made the commitment when he met with the Kip Keino Classic Director Barnabas Korir at the Ethopian Embassy on State House Avenue.
“Ethiopia continues to support preparations for the Nairobi Continental Tour meeting. We want it to succeed, and we need to raise more awareness that it’s happening,” the ambassador said.
“Sports diplomacy is our priority because sports is more than simply sports… it’s an economy by itself.”
He was briefed on the progress of preparations for the September 26 contest, that will be held at the Nyayo National Stadium, by Korir.
The envoy said the meeting is important as it accommodates some of the disciplines that were ejected from the top-tier Diamond League programme, such as the 5,000 and 10,000 metres.
“Kenya and Ethiopia dominate these races in international competitions. It’s about time that we considered co-hosting big events between Ethiopia and Kenya,” the ambassador added.
At the Nyayo National Stadium, PS Okudo assured the meeting’s local organising committee, headed by Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei, that the government was taking the competition seriously and would ensure its funding and preparations are spot on.
“As a ministry, we are doing all it takes to ensure all aspects of organisation are perfect as we get closer to the competition on September 26.
“We have the support of His Excellency the President who wants to see us hosting a successful championship, and that’s why he has been personally visiting the Nyayo National Stadium to inspect progress of renovation works,” Okudo said.
Okudo and the organising committee had carried out an inspection of the Nyayo National Stadium where renovation work is still in progress, with both comfortable the timelines will be met to allow for a successful championship.
“From what we have seen, we are happy and comfortable that we are on track. It is important to be sure, because World Athletics need these assurances and we are now confident that we shall make our commitment to them once again,” Tuwei said.
Sports Stadia Director General Pius Metto said his team will focus on ensuring the synthetic running track is in good shape for the meeting, and expressed confidence that outstanding work will be completed in time.
“We are waiting for the funds to start working on the electronic scoreboard and all procurements have been done so all is well. The call room and changing rooms are ready and most of the work is complete,” Metto said.
The newly-launched Continental Tour starts on August 11 with the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland, before the Istvan Gyulai Memorial in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, on August 19.
The 2020 Continental Tour schedule:
Paavo Nurmi Games (Turku, Finland, August 11);
Istvan Gyulai Memorial (Szekesfehervar, Hungary, August 19);
Seiko Golden Grand Prix (Tokyo, Japan, August 23);
Kamila Skolimowska Memorial (Silesia, Poland, September 6);
Ostrava Golden Spike (Ostrava, Czech Republic, September 8);
Memorial Borisa Hanzekivica (Zagreb, Croatia, September 15);
Kip Keino Classic (Nairobi, Kenya, September 26)