Vaccination, funding at the centre of Kenya’s Tokyo Olympics preparations : The standard Sports

From left: Standard group Sports Editor Robin Toskin, Team Kenya Chef de Mission Waithaka Kioni, Rose Wachuka, Policy Advisor and the Chief of Staff Office, Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage and Barnabas Korir, General Team Manager. [Olympics Kenya]

Less than a month to the invite-only national trials in June, the government, through the Ministry of Sports announced on Friday, team Kenya (for the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games) will be prioritised in the impending second dose of COVID-19 vaccines expected to kick off next week.

The Ministry disclosed four pillars that it said, are key in the Olympic Games preparations.

“The government has ensured that all athletes national teams especially those preparing for Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games have been vaccinated and we are in line for the second dose,” Policy Advisor and Chief of Staff at the Office of the Sports Cabinet Secretary, Rose Wachuka said during the inaugural Olympics Kenya Facebook Live series dubbed #TeamKenyaLive.

Wachuka said the main focus in the second dose of vaccination would be the athletes as well all the key stakeholders.

She said the Olympics and Paralympics are being managed by the best personnel and that a team of officials will ensure that, apart from the athletics, the country will showcase its rich culture at the global event.

Wachuka also said the preparations are fully funded. The live event was also attended by Olympics Chef de mission Waithaka Kioni and General Team Manager, Barnaba Korir

“The government is fully funding the Olympics and Paralympics, and nothing is left to chance and that’s why we have sealed Kasarani stadium to accommodate all athletes that have qualified for the games in a bubble camp,” Wachuka explained.

Kioni, said the Kenyan squad is well-prepared for the Olympics and that their target of taking 100 athletes to Japan for the games is on track.

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He confirmed 150 athletes have already qualified for the Summer Games, with 91 runners having attained the qualification mark for the multi-sport global event.

According to Kioni, the athletes will be trimmed to 47 when Athletics Kenya holds trials from June 17-19 at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi.

“Our target is to send 100 athletes to Tokyo. I believe it will still happen. The Ministry of Sports has facilitated the qualification process and are in charge of Team Kenya’s preparations. NOC-K has supported the federations and athletes. We expect that this will be the best Olympics preparation ever for Kenya,” Kioni said.

He added, “These are challenging times because of the pandemic. The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee are determined to have the Olympics go on and organisers have released a set of rules and guidelines to the followed to the latter.”

Korir said the team’s qualification processes and the bubble camps at Kasarani and Kenyatta University will be sustained.  He added athletes in bubble camps are strictly adhering to the set conditions.

“For the first time, we have a 50-50 gender parity in the number of athletes who have qualified. The Olympic trials are coming up next month and this means we have another opportunity for more athletes to qualify”, Korir said.

The first batch of Team Kenya will depart on July 5 to Kurume City for a 12-day training camp before heading to Tokyo ready to compete for the games, he added.

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