On Sunday next week, more than two billion viewers will be glued to their TV screens to watch the world’s top-two marathoners – Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele – clash in a contest dubbed ‘race of the year.’
For 40 years, the competition has attracted a huge fan base throughout the 19 turns of London Marathon. From the starting point of the race around Blackheath, south of the River Thames, the race wound past various iconic and landmarks like River Thames, Big Ben, London Eye, the Tower Bridge, Canary Whaff, the Buckingham Palace to the finish at The Mall; spectators and viewers have always turned up in large numbers.
It is estimated the marathon is watched by 100 million viewers annually and that helps showcase London’s features that has wide clean tree-clustered streets bedecked with the Union Jack hanging conspicuously throughout the 26.2 mile route.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the elite athletes-only race will involve 19 clockwise laps of 2.2km around St James’s Park, with the finish at The Mall. With the huge media coverage, the Ministry of Tourism – through its agencies like Kenya Tourism Board, Brand Kenya and others — should seize the moment and market Kenya.
Kipchoge and Bekele have a huge following across the globe. And while British authorities would use the event to market London, especially after adverse effects of Covid-19, Kenya's tourism industry alongside Kenya’s High Commission in London should marshal forces and attract tourists.
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Sports, particularly athletics, makes Kenya stand out on the global tourism map. Having Kipchoge and Bekele battle is the race of the year and we should take advantage of the two hours of the marathon to showcase our nation.