Sports Ministry should consider financing fresh synthetic track at Nyayo National Stadium

Wednesday May 13 2020

Every dark cloud has a silver lining.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to bite, windows of opportunity, positivity, and possibility have sprouted.

The virtual lockdown and curfew period hands us an excellent opportunity to spruce up.

Potholes on our roads and airport runways are being fixed, aeroplanes serviced, stocktaking in pubs and restaurants is complete, clutter has been cleared in residences to make for home work stations, and families are bonding more.

Such social lubrication has, for instance, seen me discover my son’s hidden talents, and also taught me that I can stay for months without engaging the frothy substance. Although much to the chagrin of my local bartender.

In sport, the impasse also offers a period to spruce up our venues ahead of what is expected to be a jam-packed 2020/21 calendar as federations prepare to clear a backlog of fixtures.

Today, hopefully, we expect some good news from World Athletics (WA) on fresh dates for the Continental Tour which was initially scheduled for May 2 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

Speaking in an interview with K24 TV at the weekend, WA President Seb Coe expressed his respect for Kenyan athletics and assured that both the one-day Continental Tour meeting and week-long World Under-20 Championships will certainly be held in Nairobi, once public health conditions allow.

Kasarani may be the prime venue for sport in Kenya, and a fitting host for the two meetings, but I would prefer having at least the Continental Tour at Nyayo National Stadium.

The latter venue is not only convenient for commuters, given its proximity to the Central Business District, but it’s also warm for track and field action as fans enjoy a close-up look at the stars.

However, as it stands, despite the massive renovations currently being undertaken at Nyayo by the Ministry of Sport, the existing synthetic track still falls short of international standards.

With the World Under-20 Championships likely to be pushed further back, probably to 2022, I’d implore Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Principal Secretary Joe Okudo to consider rejigging their budgets and allow for a fresh running track to be laid at Nyayo.

Previous administrations at the Kencom House ministry HQ made the stadium renovations a cash cow, and it’s refreshing to see the Amina-Okudo partnership transform the ministry’s work ethic.

I’m certain sports fans will be impressed by the end product, and that the new-look Nyayo National Stadium will be a gem to behold.

Accolades for the Ministry of Sports are also in order for offering Seb Coe and co. the requisite financial guarantees (of close to $1 million, or about Sh100 million) to allow Nairobi secure the Continental Tour rights.

And given that Belgium’s Golazo Sports - who enjoy vast experience in organising the Brussels Diamond League and other major meets – have been contracted to help organise the Nairobi action, Kenyan, and global, athletics fans are in for a major post-coronavirus treat.

We look forward to a favourable announcement from Monaco today, which will then prompt meet director Barnabas Korir and his team at Athletics Kenya to shift gears and cruise towards a memorable Continental Tour leg.

Meanwhile, back to my bartender: With Bundesliga fixtures resuming this weekend, let’s all continue to observe rules on social distancing, sanitation and other public health directives.

Only then can we flatten the coronavirus curve and convince Health CS Mutahi Kagwe to recommend lifting of the curfew to ease movement.

My bartender will most certainly be more than two metres away, and I promise to wear a mask as I watch my favourite Bavarians, Bayern Munich, shake off the dust on StarTimes Sport.

And I’ll order more than just a sausage!

Makori is the Editor (Sports) at Nation Media Group. [email protected]