NAIROBI: The National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK) yesterday shocked MPs when it revealed it paid over Sh5 million for accommodation of senior government officials, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, during the Rio Olympics.
NOCK said it had received instructions from Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario to pay for accommodation of the President on a cruise ship, but the President did not travel to Brazil.
The committee paid Sh2.2 million for the accommodation on the Othon Palace cruise ship, for 18 days the President was booked in Rio.
Other than the President, NOCK also admitted it footed the accommodation costs for the chairs of two parliamentary committees who also never turned up.
The accommodation was instead taken up by other members of the team, one of them, the chair of the the National Anti-doping Agency James Waweru and chair of the Sports Fund Sam Kairu.
The rooms, costing a total of Sh2.6 million were meant for David Were, the chair of the Labour committee (National Assembly) and his Senate counterpart Stewart Madzayo.
“In a meeting on 14th June with the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary, directions were given that I had to book a room for the President on the cruise ship. I was further told to book rooms for the two principal secretaries, chairman of the Sports Fund and the Controller of Budget and the chair of the Anti-Doping Agency,” said Stephen Soi, head of delegation to the games.
“The matter of accommodation was discussed between the Cabinet Secretary and NOCK was not involved,” said Soi.
The admission was the culmination of grilling by the committee, which is inquiring into allegations of mistreatment of athletes and team officials during the games.
Some athletes are said to have lived in deplorable conditions in Brazil, while others missed air tickets. Some officials are said to have colluded to steal the team’s sportswear provided by Nike.
NOCK blamed the CS for the mess, including the booking of the executive accommodation.
The CS disbanded NOCK after the Rio games.
Mr Soi said the decision to pay for the accommodation was made during a steering committee meeting that was also attended by the Principal Secretary in the ministry, Mr Richard Ekai.
“All dignitaries attending the Rio Olympics were to sleep in the cruise ship,” he said.
“We do not believe we mismanaged the team. You cannot mismanage a team that brings glory to the country. This was the best result the country got in 60 years,” said Soi, who was accompanied by NOCK chair Kipchoge Keino.
Aldai MP, Cornelly Serem asked who gave NOCK instructions to arrange for the accommodation.
“We want to know who gave instructions for the accommodation arrangements,” he asked.
Wario who appeared earlier before the committee blamed NOCK for the mess, saying that it was responsible for the Kenyan team and that his decision to disband it was meant to end its years of ineptitude.
“NOCK is not above the law, and does not exist in a vacuum. We’ve had so many negative stories about NOCK but this is the fist time that action is being taken,” he said.
Wario, who was also questioned about allowances, said the athletes’ were paid in “full”.
“What we need is evidence that athletes’ allowances were paid,” said chair of the committee David Were (Matungu).
“The fist thing the CS should have done when he landed at the airport was to resign. I do not think he is capable of implementing reforms at the ministry. We are not seeing you delivering on the reforms,” said John K’obado (Uriri).
A list tabled by Mr Keino to show the dispatch of kits from Nike was however dismissed as inadmissible before the committee.
NOCK further complicated matters for itself when it admitted that it had bought uniform for sports that Kenya did not participate in.
The CS is expected to meet the International Olympics Committee to explain why he disbanded NOCK, which has put the Government at loggerheads with the world body.