REMARKS BY AMB. (DR.) AMINA MOHAMED, EGH, CAV, CABINET SECRETARY FOR SPORTS, CULTURE AND HERITAGE DURING LAUNCH OF NTV’S BROADCAST RIGHTS FOR WORLD ATHLETICS UNDER-20 (WA-U20) CHAMPIONSHIPS
Four years ago, Nairobi broke several records, most significantly those around spectator numbers at a World Athletics age-group competition. Crowds of up to 60,000 attended the World Under-18 Championships at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. Many more spectators were turned away, surpassing any figure recorded at senior global track and field championships.
A decade prior, in 2007, Kenya had hosted the World Cross Country Championships at the scenic Mombasa Golf Club. Equally significant fans turned up to witness the event. In 2010, the African Athletic Championships were held at the Nyayo National Stadium with resounding success.
The triumph of these international athletics competitions in Kenya largely informed the decision by the World Athletics Council to award Nairobi hosting rights for the World Athletics Under-20 Championships that will now be held from August 17 to 22 this year.
Athletics is at the heart of Kenyan life and culture. Some of Kenya’s foremost athletes made their debut at these age-group championships. David Rudisha, Mercy Cherono, Rhonex Kipruto and Faith Kipyegon, among many more, immediately come to mind. It is therefore a great honour to host the world and our own internationally renowned champions at home for such a major event. The Government through the leadership of His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and H.E Mrs Margaret Kenyatta who is the Patron of the event ensured that adequate resources were provided to put this event together despite the prevailing global challenges.
Kenya’s hosting rights can be attributed to the dedication and passion the Government has shown towards sport. I led a delegation to Monaco in 2019 to cement these hosting rights and further lobby for Nairobi to be listed as a global host city of the World Athletics Continental Tour with the first edition of the Kip Keino Classic being held in October 2021. The second edition of this event will take place on 18th September this year. We intend to position Kenya and Africa as a global sporting hub and along with it, provide global broadcasting opportunities for our media partners.
The support of Kenyan media for athletics has been phenomenal. During the Centenary Celebrations of World Athletics in Barcelona in 2012, Elias Makori of the Nation Media Group was awarded World Athletics Journalist of the Year for his immense contribution to the growth of athletics journalism becoming the first, and the only journalist from Africa, so far, to receive this award.
Our collective media partners have developed pools of talented, professional sports journalists and editors who continue to be instrumental in our mission to deepen Kenya’s global position as a leading sports destination. The Ministry has continuously engaged media personnel in core preparatory committees of every global event held in Kenya. Elias Makori of the Nation Media Group, the official World Athletics broadcast partner for the World Athletics Under 20 event, is leading media operations for the WRC Safari Rally event alongside Peter Njenga while Mike Okinyi (Royal Media Services), Robin Toskin (The Standard Group), Alex Isaboke (Capital), Chris Mbaisi (Radio Africa Group) and Elynnah Shiveka (KBC) are supporting media operations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Ministry is also very grateful to the Sports Media Council for its steady partnership in maintaining solid media ethics and training to enhance our work. Skills transfer from these experienced journalists will ensure that upcoming young sports journalists have a strong foundation upon which to launch their reporting outlook.
I congratulate the Nation Media Group, led by the CEO Mr Stephen Gitagama and Head of Broadcasting at NTV, Mrs Monica Ndung’u, for securing the free-to-air broadcast rights for the World Athletics Under-20 Championships. This investment will ensure that the Kenyan public can watch the competition live from Kasarani on NTV, free of charge.
The Ministry will continue to seek more opportunities for collaboration with local media players in the spirit of private-public partnerships, for the good of the sport in our country.
Finally, I urge Nation Media Group and other media partners to support the Ministry’s protest against irresponsible and malicious reporting by a section of foreign media with the intent to discredit Kenya’s sporting history. Kenya has a zero-tolerance policy towards doping and has led the war on doping from the front.
As we continue to broaden our sporting repertoire, let us join hands to deepen education against doping and to protect the image of our hard-working sports Ambassadors from malicious, untrue and fabricated attacks.
It is now my pleasure to officially launch the NTV Road to the World Athletics Under-20 Championships, Nairobi 2021!