Ministry officials go missing after ticket fraud claims
Senior Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture officials were nowhere to be found on Friday as the agency that dealt with Team Kenya travel plans to the 2016 Olympics declined to provide cost figures following claims by the Probe Committee investigating the Rio Fiasco that the Government paid inflated tickets to the Summer Games in Brazil.
At the same time, embattled National Olympics Committee-Kenya (Nock) Secretary General Francis K Paul termed the recommendation made in the probe team report for them to be made answerable on how they spend the Ksh126m they receive annually from American sports apparel firm Nike by Government is untenable.
The Paul Ochieng-led probe committee accused ministry officials of embezzling over Ksh88m meant for tickets and called Nock to account for the sponsorship and bonus money they receive from Nike in a the yet to be released findings into their investigations into the Olympics scam.
Green Bay Travel Agency located at Nairobi’s Central Business District that was contracted by the ministry to issue tickets to Brazil for Team Kenya refused to talk to Citizen TV and Citizen Digital after we sought clarification on the exact monies paid for the air fare to Brazil.
According to the cost-report presented by the Ministry to President Uhuru Kenyatta, each Economy Class return ticket for the 185 members of Team Kenya to Rio Olympics cost Ksh835,358.27 but national carrier Kenya Airways lists the same for the busy month of December at an estimated Ksh334,000- a deficit of over Ksh500,000 per ticket.
The Head of State is expected to make the report public next week having warned those culpable will face the full force of law in efforts to restore sanity in management of sports in the country.
Speaking at Nock headquarters in Nairobi Paul, who is out on bail on charges related to theft of kit from Nike meant for Team Kenya disputed claims they hold the sponsorship money in trust.
“We don’t receive any money on behalf of athletes, that is not true. Nike gives us money in accordance with the contract which we signed with them that expires in 2020. There is nowhere that states Nike should give us money for athletes,” the Secretary General offered.
He however acknowledged there exists a clause in the contract between them and Nike for medals won after every major championship under their umbrella, including Olympics, Commonwealth and All Africa Games.
“We negotiated with Nike many issues that being one of them. We have been receiving the money for development programs which we honestly undertake. If we give you money to go for Trials or a qualifying championships, it is from Nike.
“The money is given for the performance of the nation but not directly for athletes and Nike can attest to this,” Paul underscored.
In its recommendations, the probe committee wants the contract between Nock and the American firm cancelled or reviewed since it is skewed in Nike’s favour but the Nock boss claimed that was not possible.
“It is Nock to decide whether to cancel it or not. Right now we have a contract that runs until 2020 which we will review when it ends as usual. The Government or anyone else is not part of this contract and therefore has nothing to do with such a decision,” he charged.
He further shot down the suggestion for the Probe Committee to be mandated to oversee preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“That is not possible; it’s only Nock that can enter athletes to Olympics. Not even the Government can. The probe committee can do whatever they want but it will not be recognized by the IOC (International Olympics Committee).
“Whether it will be myself but someone else, it remains Nock’s mandate,” the long serving Nock official emphasised.
Efforts to reach Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Hassan Wario who appointed the probe team or his Principal Secretary in charge of Sports, Ambassador Richard Ekai at their offices or on phone proved futile by the time of going to press.