The World Under-20 Championship Media Breakfast At The Serena Hotel, 15th March 2021

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Coat of arms of Kenya

SPEECH BY AMB. (DR.) AMINA MOHAMED, EGH, CAV, CABINET SECRETARY FOR SPORTS, CULTURE AND HERITAGE DURING THE WORLD UNDER-20 CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA BREAKFAST AT THE SERENA HOTEL, 15TH MARCH 2021

 

Hon. Simon Kachapin, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage,

Mr Zach Kinuthia, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage,

Mr Joe R. Okudo, Principal Secretary, State Department for Sports, 

Ms Josephta Mukobe, Principal Secretary, State Department for Culture and Heritage,

Members of the World Athletics Under-20 Championship Steering Committee, 

Lt. General (Rtd.) Jackson Tuwei, Chairman, World Athletics Under-20 Championship,

Mike Rabar, CEO, World Athletics Under-20 Championship,

Members of the World Athletics Under-20 Championship Organising Committee,

Members of the Fourth Estate,

Invited Guests,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you most sincerely for honouring our invitation to this morning’s important briefing.

Since Nairobi’s candidacy to host the World Athletics Under-20 Championships was formally endorsed by the IAAF (now World Athletics) Council in Buenos Aires in June 2018, Kenya has made great strides in preparing for the competition.

However, the challenges visited by the coronavirus pandemic forced us to postpone the championship from last year to August 17-22 this year. The additional time has offered us an opportunity to deepen our engagements and broaden our organisation team to enhance the preparations. In particular, we have expanded the medical team to ensure that all the emerging pandemic protocols are fully applied in order to guarantee that the event will be COVID free and secure.

The World Under-20 Championship (Nairobi 2021) comes hot on the heels of an outstanding final edition of the IAAF World Under-18 Championships in 2017 when Nairobi demonstrated our country’s ability to host major global competitions. It also comes at a time when Kenya’s iconic FIA/WRC Safari Rally Championship has been readmitted to the World Rally Championships calendar. Additionally, Kenya will host the European Gold Tour dubbed Tour Magical Kenya Open Golf Championship and the Savannah Classic in March 2021. As such, despite the delays and cancellations necessitated by the pandemic, we have put in place all the necessary measures to welcome the sporting world to Nairobi for these exciting events.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last year, we hosted a very successful inaugural Kip Keino Classic round of the World Athletics Continental Tour last October at the refurbished Nyayo National Stadium. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, Kenya pulled off a memorable event that was beamed to a global audience through local production, courtesy of NTV, which demonstrated our ability to also offer world-class sports productions. I would like to sincerely thank the Kenyan media in general for contributing to last year’s exceptional success in our sporting calendar despite the setbacks.

Reports from World Athletics conformed that compared to all athletic competitions held during the coronavirus-ravaged 2020 Continental Tour season, the Kip Keino Classic attracted the most diverse field of athletes with 30 nations represented and was undoubtedly, the most successful. Kenya demonstrated to the world our ability to implement, to the letter, the strict Covid-19 competition protocols, in the process earning the confidence of international elite athletes and officials. Equally, we shall stop at nothing in ensuring the safety of athletes, officials, media and fans at the World Athletics Under-20 championships. We have a winning template and are working to seal any existing gaps. 2021 will be a great sporting year for our country. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

In 2017 we witnessed crowds of up to 60,000 at the World Under-18 Championships at the Moi International Sports Centre, crowds have never seen before at a World Athletics age-group competition. This is a clear demonstration that Athletics is very much a part of the Kenyan fabric. I am confident that we shall experience similar interest at the World Athletics Under-20 championship even with covid-19 protocols firmly in place. We will substantially scale down the fan numbers allowed into the stadium in compliance with global coronavirus protocols that demand social distancing and decongestion of public space but will substitute by engaging all media outlets, traditional and new, to broadcast the event to the world. 

I would like to especially pay gratitude to our Head of State, H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta, for his unwavering support and for cantering sports, culture and the Arts firmly in his Legacy. The Ministry was allocated KShs. 332 million towards the refurbishment of the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani, in addition to KShs.1.5 billion allocated for the World Athletics under-20 championship. Resources to upgrade various stadiums across the country to offer our youth the best possible training and competition facilities have also been availed.

I would also like to thank World Athletics, through President Sebastian Coe, for the confidence they have shown in our organizational acumen. Time and again, President Coe has expressed faith in our Government’s strong support for the Championships, and we will continue to build our capacity as one of the foremost sporting hosts in the world. 

Kenya has already expressed interest in hosting the World Athletics Championship in 2025. A successful Under-20 event will provide additional support to this bid having already proved our ability during the 2017 under-18 competition.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I recently gazetted the Steering and Organising Committees responsible for the planning phase of the World Under-20 Championships. I am assured that this team will deliver a very successful event.

I would like to congratulate Athletics Kenya, through the Federation’s President Lt Gen (Retired) Jackson Tuwei, who is also the Chairman of the Nairobi 2021 Organising Committee, for the prudent management of the sport in the country.

In the same spirit, I challenge AK to adequately prepare TeamKenya to make an impact at the competition in August. As a Ministry, we shall spare no resources in ensuring that our athletes are well represented.

Together with senior officials from the Ministry, I will visit the various training camps to assess our level of preparedness besides offering the necessary financial and material support. Our great athletes have significantly contributed to the development of Athletics and proven to be selfless ambassadors of our country abroad.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As the fourth and most important composite of any country’s governance structure, you are Kenya’s window to the world. I urge you to exercise your traditional professionalism and help market our country as Africa’s leading sports destination.

Because of the confidence and trust that we place you, I appointed some of your senior editors to the World Athletics Under-20 Championships’ Organising Committee, the FIA/WRC Safari Rally and the Steering and Central Management Committees of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I’m sure that your experience and professionalism will be a great asset to our bid to cement a legacy in the international sports organisation. 

Thank you once again and I look forward to working closely with you to deliver a very memorable sporting season. 

Asanteni sana!

 

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