31 October 2012

Rwanda Pulls Out of Hosting Junior Athletics Championship

Photo: Ludwick Mamabolo/Facebook
Athletes (file photo): The African Junior Athletics Championship is expected to take place in June next year.

Rwanda will not host the 2013 African Junior Athletics Championship, a move which has left the Confederation of Africa Athletics (CAA) in confusion.

The country was given the nod to host 2013 African Junior Athletics Championship slated for June next year. Rwanda was the sole bidder to host the event.

At the bidding ceremony, the country was represented by National Athletics Federation's Jean Damascène Nkezabo and the Director of Sports in the Ministry of Sports, Emmanuel Bugingo.

After several meetings and visits by Confederation of Africa Athletics (CAA) officials, Rwanda was informed that they would have to inject over US$2 million(Rwf1.3bn) to facilitate the championship.

In a twist of events, the local athletics boss Nkezabo has written to CAA just nine months before the championships saying that Rwanda has withdrawn their bid citing financial constraints.

Though Nkezabo denied writing the letter, CAA Vice President, David Okeyo confirmed the development yesterday.

"We have received communication from Rwanda that Kigali will not be ready to host the 2013 Africa Junior Championships. This is a blow to our plans because Rwanda had just been awarded the bid to host event."

"Rwanda failed to procure necessary equipment in time and has always been lagging behind the time ever since they were awarded, the event.

"There is no standard tartan track in Rwanda to stage the championship. They also needed equipment for the event and technical support. All these need money and the organising committee has had difficulties getting the money to do all this," said Okeyo.

In an interview, Nkezabo said, "I don't know about the letter but it might have been written by my secretary general. The Ministry of Sports and Culture might be in good position to comment."

However, Nkezabo acknowledged that the event would cost Rwanda a lot of money and the Ministry of Sports and Culture was not ready to commit itself despite assuring the continental body mid this year that they would avail everything to host the first ever continental athletics championship.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports Edward Kalisa said yesterday that on the side of the government, they could not meet the budget within the remaining time.

"CAA officials came to Kigali and we discussed the terms of reference to host the championship. After those discussions, an assessment was carried to see whether we could meet the costs," he explained.

According to Kalisa, infrastructure costs alone were supposed to cost a tune of $2 million (Rwf. 1.3 billion) while organisation costs were tuned up to Rwf1 billion.

What went wrong?

The event which was first secured following government's backing turned sour in the eyes of the Ministry and the federation when they realised that requirements needed to host the event could not to be raised in the shortest time possible.

The local athletics federation which has been a beehive for endless wrangles over the past couple of years was hoping to leap more funds from this championship.

Internal power and money wrangles which stemmed from last year's Kigali peace marathon where Rwf 1.5m was embezzled, led to suspension of federation top officials who include Secretary General Constatin Twajamahoro, 2nd vice president Dieudonne Disi and Treasurer Nadine Muterinkindi.

Previously, Rwanda has successfully hosted the U-20 and U-17 African Youth Championships in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

The country will again host the fourth edition of African Nations Championship (CHAN) in 2016.

According to Okeyo, CAA will immediately start a new process to evaluate and vet new hosts.

However, he ruled out Kenya taking up the chance to replace Rwanda saying, the country was yet to recover from the loss of hosting the 2010 Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Nairobi.

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