National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) has entered into a one-year partnership with Kenya Charity Sweepstake in a move aimed at improving Team Kenya's motivation kitty ahead of the Tokyo Olympics to be held from July 23 to August 8 next year in Japan.
The partnership will see NOC-K receive 10 percent of the proceeds of lottery games offered by Kenya's oldest gaming firm. The deal will run for a year with N0C-K optimistic of a four-year extension to the run-up to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
According to NOC-K acting secretary general Francis Mutuku, the deal is one of a kind and is aimed at improving Kenya's medal haul in next year's Summer Games as well as easing the qualification pathway for Kenyan athletes to subsequent Olympics.
"We are excited to have KCS on board because we are looking at entering into such partnerships to improve our chances of getting more medals at the Olympics. For a very long time we have looked at the Olympics as an event but it's a process.
"We want to ensure that our athletes start the journey to qualifying for Olympics early by exposing them to international competitions and professional training. This kind of preparations require adequate funding and we are grateful KCS will help us bridge that gap.
"We are looking at a long term engagement with them so that we can have more disciplines making it to the Olympics and help our athletes showcase their talent at the highest level," said Mutuku.
KCS Chief Executive Yaron Farachi said the deal represents a new start at the company which is rebranding under new majority stakeholder TenLot.
"KCS has always been keen on supporting community activities and sports is a big way to unite Kenyans and give back to society. We have already chipped in at the preparations phase and we are committed to ensuring our athletes have smooth preparations and make us proud in Tokyo," said Farachi.
To boost their campaign to support Team Kenya, KCS has introduced new lottery games and scratch cards with sports themes namely Dimba (football), Haraka (athletics), Shujaa (rugby), Hazina, Penya and ChapChap.
"I would like to urge Kenyans to buy the scratch cards from registered KCS shops and authorized agents because this will be their direct contribution to this initiative. Let them avoid fake cards being sold in the streets to ensure our athletes benefit from their goodwill," added Farachi.
"We have also introduced new digital platforms to help improve customer experience and promote responsible gaming. This will also help reduce cases of minors playing on KCS platforms," he noted.
Team Kenya Chef de Mission Waithaka Kioni welcomed the deal saying it would help athletes take their A-game in Tokyo and usurp the Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016 medal tallies.
Kenya's medal haul of six gold, six silver and one bronze in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil remains the best performance by the country at the Olympics. Beijing 2008 saw Kenya bag six gold, four silver and six bronze in what stands out as the second best ever performance.
"This deal has come at the right time because the financial demands are high. Our teams have already started their preparations and this time round we want to get everything right to avoid what happened in Rio. If we get the preparations phase right then performance will take care of itself.
"We are grateful for the support from government and we urge more corporates to follow KCS' example. Things are slowly getting back to normal and this deal is a sign of good things to come," said Kioni who doubles up as NOC-K's second Deputy President.
The Tokyo Olympics were postponed by a year due to the novel coronavirus that ground major sporting competitions to a halt this year. So far, three teams namely Shujaa, Kenya Lionesses and Malkia Strikers have qualified for the Games.
Olympic and world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge headlines the athletics cast that will be relied upon to better the Rio 2016 and Beijing 2008 medal haul.
Team Kenya will camp in Kurume City for close to a month ahead of the Games before moving to Tokyo for the competition proper. Marathon runners will however fly direct to Sapporo where the marathon will be held due to temperature concerns in the capital.