Johannesburg - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) froze financial support to Kenya on Thursday after the country’s troubled Olympic committee refused to make changes to its constitution...a decision that could lead to a ban.
The IOC said it would discuss the matter at its executive board meeting in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next week.
The IOC wants the Kenyans to approve new regulations addressing good governance within the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), which has been dealing with problems regarding doping, mismanagement and political pressure. But the NOCK has yet to approve them.
“The IOC is extremely disappointed by the outcome of the National Olympic Committee [of Kenya] extraordinary general assembly, which did not address governance issues in the appropriate way,” the IOC said.
“This goes against the tripartite agreement [that IOC-NOCK government authorities] reached in September 2016 in Lausanne and the road map and discussions with the NOCK over the past few months.”
National Olympic committees divide up about $1 billion (R13.18 billion) in IOC revenue every four years, which is their share of the marketing revenue from the Olympics.
The IOC also supports thousands of athletes, coaches and staff through its Olympic Solidarity fund.
Kenya last month accepted a local high court decision overruling last year’s government order to disband the NOCK after accusations that it had poorly handled arrangements for the 2016 Rio Games.
Sports Minister Hassan Wario had ordered that the NOCK be disbanded last August, saying the body had not arranged adequate accommodation and travel arrangements for the Olympic team in Rio and had also mishandled other issues.
Despite problems in the build-up to Rio, the East African nation enjoyed its most successful Olympics, winning six gold medals, six silvers and one bronze, all in track and field.
“The IOC is now putting on hold all payments of subsidies to the National Olympic Committee of Kenya until a decision by the IOC executive board is made at its meeting next week,” the IOC said.
A possible ban would mean Kenya would not be allowed to send a team to the Olympic Games and its athletes would be forced to compete independently.
The country would also not take part in any IOC-sanctioned event or meeting and would not benefit from IOC funding in any form, including athlete support and training.
NOCK secretary-general Francis Kinyili Paul said the body’s officials were ready to quit “if this is in the interest of Kenyan sports”.
“Fighting all the time doesn’t make sense. We are ready to quit if this will be the solution for Kenyan sports problems in general and the Olympics in particular,” Paul said on Thursday.
Andrew Mudibo, president of the Kenya Table Tennis Association – which is among the affiliates opposed to the NOCK – welcomed the move by the IOC.
“On behalf of NOCK affiliates, we welcome the move that the IOC has taken and we would like to see the executives resign from their positions,” he said.
The IOC suspended Kuwait in October 2015, accusing the government of interference in its national Olympic committee and its athletes competed as independents in Rio. – Reuters