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Kenya: disbandment of National Olympic Committee

By Elvis Majani Centre for Sports Law Nairobi Kenya After the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, there were complaints, from the general Kenyan public and other quarters, about mismanagement of ‘Team Kenya’ at the Olympics. With this in mind, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Sports and Culture (CSSC), on 25 August, 2016, finally bowed to public pressure, and took the bold step of disbanding the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K), for what has come to be known as the ‘Rio Fiasco’. It was expected that the responsible NOC-K officials would be brought to book, noting the serious allegations made against them of stealing NOC-K funds and other mismanagement. This would ensure that any interference by the Kenyan Government in sport is supported by evidence of malpractice in the governance of the responsible sporting body, NOC-K. Thus, during September 2016, a number of officials of the disbanded NOC-K were charged with various offences and submitted to court proceedings, where the cases are now pending. So, we are not able to comment further, at this moment, as the matter is ‘sub judice’. This action led to an offer by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to mediate between the Kenyan Government and NOC-K, in order to end the dispute that arose after the Rio Olympics. Officials of the IOC wrote to NOC-K from their headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 2 September, 2016, following the disbandment of NOC-K by CSSC. The Kenyan Government understands and appreciates that non-interference in sport is required under Chapter 4, Rules 9 & 26.6, of the Olympic Charter, and this has led to the appointment of an interim committee, composed of eight members, who will run the NOC-K until 31 December, 2016, and who are also required to come up with a ‘roadmap’ for a new and revamped NOC-K. This intense negotiation was due to the charges facing the officials and the need to ensure sporting activity in Kenya continues unaffected. Furthermore, it is clear that the IOC finally - but reluctantly - agreed with the Kenyan Government’s move to disband NOC-K, and to call for an election of new officials. In a meeting with the Kenyan CSSC, the IOC recommended that this election should take place on 31 December, 2016. Future developments in this sorry affair, especially the outcome of the court proceedings, are awaited with great interest in Kenya and beyond!  

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