Athletes threaten to boycott Commonwealth Games
Trouble is brewing as Kenyan athletes threaten to boycott next year’s Commonwealth Games slated for April 4-15, 2018, in Australia and any other national duty over delayed payment of their bonuses by the government.
The athletes allege that the Ministry of Sports have taken them for a ride for years since the 2011 World Championships hosted in Daegu, South Korea to the most recent, the 2017 London World Championships.
The athletes claim that the many trips they have made to the Ministry of Sports headquarters to have the matter settled hasn’t yielded much and now fear that they may never get their bonuses .
According to the government’s pledge, those who bag gold in major races are entitled to Sh 1 million , Sh 750,000 for runners up, and Sh 500,000 for third place finishers(bronze medallists).
One of the top athletes who has won a number of gold medals between 2011 and 2017, and who spoke to Citizen Digital on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation could not understand why the Ministry is not meeting the end of the bargain despite a Sh 1 billion yearly budget for reward of outstanding athletes.
“If the Government is not able to keep their promise then why make them in the first case. Even though the money is little it could have assisted in one or two of my projects. I cannot blame the athletes who change their allegiance because their adopted nations pamper them with gifts and money. It’s evident that they are paid handsomely looking at their lifestyles.
“Sadly, for many of us, we have been forced to make visits to the ministry only to be told that ‘you have either given a wrong bank account’ or they pay a few athletes who attended a particular event and leave out the rest. For now I’m not sure what they want because for those of us in the disciplined forces have furnished them with our force and personal numbers ,” the two-time World champion lamented.
In a separate interview , Sports Principal Secretary Ambassador Kirimi Kaberia urged the athletes to be patient as they address the issue.
“We are happy and appreciate that many athletes have been able to represent our nation in various international events. However, many of them have not yet been paid because it’s either their payments is being processed or about to be processed,”Kaberia claimed.
Kaberia added that most of the money was channelled to hosting the IAAF World Under 18 Championships which was held from July 12-16 at the Moi International Sports Centre,Kasarani. He however promised that the payments would be made.