President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya has reiterated the government’s commitment to upgrading sports facilities in the country to match international standards.
Uhuru made the remarks on Saturday while opening the refurbished Nyayo National Stadium, Kenya’s oldest and second-largest stadium after the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani.
The multi-purpose stadium, which is approximately 2 kilometers from Nairobi city center, has been under renovation for the last three years.
With the re-opening of Nyayo National Stadium, Kenyatta said Kenya’s athletes will add new pages to the country’s long and celebrated history as a sports powerhouse.
“Our endeavor is to ensure that our sporting facilities can compare favorably with the top addresses around the world. In that regard, we are in the process of developing other sporting facilities throughout the country,” he said.
Kenyatta said the government is on the verge of completing construction of Jamhuri Sports, Leisure and Entertainment Park in Nairobi, as well as upgrading sports facilities in Eldoret, Marsabit, Meru, Chuka, Kisumu, Nyeri, Makueni, Wanguru in Kirinyaga and Kirigiti in Kiambu.
Kenyatta directed the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage to work ’round the clock to ensure the facilities are completed and ready for commissioning by the end of December.
“In addition to the facilities, I have earlier mentioned, we are in discussions with the county governments of Mombasa, Kakamega, Narok and Kisii to co-finance and upgrade to international standards the existing facilities in their counties,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nyayo National Stadium is set to host the Kip Keino Classic on Saturday, the first World Athletics Continental Tour event to be held on the African continent.
The event, named after Kenya’s great hero and trailblazing Olympic champion, Kipchoge Keino, will bring together elite athletes from all over the world to compete in various track and field events.
“Our being entrusted to host this global event is evidence of the confidence that the world has in our country and our levels of coronavirus containment, as it will be the first global sporting event to be held on the African continent since the advent of the pandemic,” Kenyatta said.
The president said the Kip Keino Classic and other sporting events that will be held as the country gradually and progressively re-opens will be conducted with strict adherence to all applicable coronavirus protocols, guidelines and regulations.
“This will ensure that sportspersons, coaches, media and spectators are kept safe and healthy,” he said.
Kenyatta called on the Ministry of Sports to redouble its efforts in re-convening major sporting events that were postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I further direct the ministry to resume preparation processes towards the Olympic and Paralympic Games and to engage with our local sports associations on how Kenyan athletes can resume competing in sporting events abroad,” he said.
Amina Mohamed, the cabinet secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage, thanked Kenyatta for being the force behind the revitalization and facelift of the Nyayo National Stadium.
Mohamed said several international sports bodies have sent their representatives to inspect the facility and have rated it among the best on the African continent.