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Drama as African Games athletes locked out of hotel

Tuesday August 13 2019

Members of the African Games athletics team at the reception of the Luke Hotel after they were denied access by the management due to unpaid bills. PHOTO | AYUMBA AYODI |

Members of the African Games athletics team at the reception of the Luke Hotel after they were denied access by the management due to unpaid bills. PHOTO | AYUMBA AYODI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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Athletics and volleyball teams for African Games have been kicked out of the Luke Hotel, Nairobi for lack of payment.

The teams have been putting up at the facility since Monday last week in preparations for the continental games scheduled for August 19 to 31 in Morocco.

The management of the hotel had on Saturday locked out some athletes from accessing the hotel but only agreed to allow them in after Team Kenya officials promised they would clear half of their bills.

The athletes were instructed to leave the hotel rooms with their luggage at 6pm on Tuesday when they checked in after their evening training sessions.

"The hotel management said they would only allow us in if monies owed to the hotel were settled," said one of the athletes.

However, Principal Secretary for Sports Kirimi Kaberia accused Athletics Kenya (AK) of blackmail.

Kaberia disclosed that they had told AK to take their team to either of the four hotels that are government facilities.

Kaberia said that they had instructed federations in charge of various teams to put up at Utalii Hotel, Kenyatta University, Kenya School of Monetary Studies and Stadio Hotel but they declined.

"These are hotels where the government can easily audit and settle bills easily," said Kaberia adding that Athletics Kenya and their volleyball counterparts didn't consult or seek approval from the ministry before booking at teams at Luke Hotel.

BUSINESS VENTURES

Kaberia said that it was unfortunate for the federations to use the athletes to further their business ventures. "Some officials are into business with the hotel," Kaberia claimed adding that the issue of accommodation was not brought to him during the team managers meeting at Kasarani.

"These people are being malicious since it's just coming a few hours after we met their managers," said Kaberia.

A ministry official, who Kaberia dispatched to resolve the impulse, apologised to the athletes for the unfortunate turn of events saying it won't happen again.

Team Kenya chief executive officer Charles Nyaberi and General Team manager Paul Mutwii also regretted the incident and also apologised to the athletes.

"It's also a good thing since the problem will be solved once and for all," said Mutwii.

" I want to assure you that the ministry has sorted out the issue and the hotel has agreed you go back," said the official from the ministry adding that their local and overseas allowances will also be settled immediately. "You are our heroes and heroines and we are sad and regret what you have gone through. We want to apologise."

SPORTS COUNCIL

However, Athletics Kenya committee member Barnaba Korir said Kaberia has been misadvised since it's the Kenya National Sports Council ( KNSC) who booked the team at Luke Hotel and not AK.

"We cannot propagate lies and arm-twist the truth here. Our mandate as the federation ended when we selected the team and handed it over to the KNSC. Saying it's AK who booked the team at Luke is totally unacceptable and lies," said Korir.

Korir said its Nyaberi and Chef de Mission Shadrack Maluki, who did the booking at Luke Hotel after the facilities at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies and Stadio were fully booked for the East Africa Military Games.

"They promised to pay the hotel by Tuesday but went missing after the hotel management went looking for them," said Korir.

Athletics team captain Julius Yego said they go through such problems every time the teams are heading for international competitions.

"This team was selected over a month ago and I don't know why the issue of accommodation is cropping up now," said Yego who recalled he was almost left behind when his ticket went missing ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

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