Namwamba defends stadium closure amid uproar from stranded athletes

Ababu Namwamba (circled) inspected the Kasarani Stadium on Tuesday as the arena continues to undergo refurbishment

Namwamba defends stadium closure amid uproar from stranded athletes

Joel Omotto 08:00 - 15.05.2024

Sports CS Ababu Namwamba has urged Kenyan athletes to be patient as government fixes stadiums even as some face prospects of competing outside Kenya to attain Olympic standards.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has defended government’s decision to close stadiums for major renovations even as athletes and federations grapple with where to hold various events.

Already, Kenyan athletes who are looking to attain Olympic qualifying standards, face the prospects of competing out of the country to achieve that while Harambee Stars are set to play their home 2026 World Cup qualifiers in Malawi due to unavailability of a stadium.

This is because Nyayo and Kasarani Stadiums are closed for renovation as Kenya prepares for the CHAN 2024 and 2027 Africa Cup of Nations which the country will co-host with Uganda and Tanzania.

With Nyayo and Kasarani the only World Athletics-sanctioned tracks for athletes to hit Olympic qualifying marks, they will have to look outside the country for competitions as the Ulinzi Complex, which will host the trials is not sanctioned.

Namwamba has called on Kenyan athletes to take the short-term pain for long-term gain as the government fixes the facilities that have been neglected for long.

“It is common knowledge that we have closed Nyayo, Kasarani and Kipchoge Keino Eldoret for major upgrading, while we are heavily investing in the new Talanta Sports City alongside other regional facilities countrywide,” Namwamba said via a social media post in response to a concern raised by Kenyan athletes.

“There is nothing “unfortunate” about sports events being hosted at Ulinzi Sports Complex. The high stakes U17 Women’s World Cup qualifier return match against Ethiopia will be hosted at the same venue.

“We are correcting a mess accumulated over many years. For long Kenya’s sports facilities have been neglected and handled way too casually. Not any more.”

Namwamba pointed at neighbouring countries who similarly closed their stadiums for major upgrades and now have facilities that meet international standards.

“Uganda started renovating Nelson Mandela Namboole Stadium in 2020. They have just reopened it this month, and reaping the benefits of long-term investment of four years. Rwanda started rebuilding Amahoro Stadium in 2019. The results are before our eyes, after five years,” he went on.

“We urge all Kenyans to support the full implementation of our revolutionary Sports & Creatives Infrastructure Masterplan. It is a transformative game-changer. Some temporary inconvenience will give way to a permanent solution. By the time we are done in a couple of years, Kenya will be miles ahead of all of our neighbors.”

Uganda’s Namboole was cleared to host international matches on Monday while Rwanda’s Amahoro, whose upgrading stared in 2022, is close to being opened with a completely new face.

Kenya is seeking to put its house in order for the two tournaments but it has come at a major inconvenience to most teams that rely on the two facilities.

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