Up to 2,000 people, mostly state officers, will accompany President Uhuru Kenyatta when the Kenyan head of state re-opens the newly refurbished Nyayo National stadium Saturday.
Nyayo, Kenya’s second largest sporting facility has been out of bounds since 2017, when it was closed down for a face lift.
The stadium that sits at the heart of the capital city, Nairobi, will host its first major event in over three years, the Kip Keino Classic, one of the legs of the World Athletics Continental Tour next month.
But it is the list of the expected guests at the ‘state function’ that raise eyebrows.
A total 2,042 guests, excluding the President’s security details, are expected to gather at the 30, 000 capacity stadium on Stadium.
This comes even as the Kenyan government continues with its suspensions on all gathering at the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
The Kenyan government has partially lifted the ban on sporting activities, though fans are still not allowed inside the stadiums.
Kip Keino Classic organizers announced that only 6,000 people, among them the expected 250 athletes, support staff and the media, will be allowed access during the one-day event scheduled for October 3.
During the President’s led-function, a test run will take place and it is expected Uhuru will give further direction when the country will fully return back to the old sporting days before the coronavirus forced a temporary stoppage to sports in the country last March.
“It (Kip Keino Classic) is going to open our sports in the country and most likely in Africa, because since Covid-19, there has not been any major championship in Africa,” Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei said last week.
Kip Keino Classic, named after Kenya’s legendary Kipchoge Keino, will be the first time that Africa will be hosting the World Athletics Continental Tour meeting.
It will also be the first major athletics event on the continent since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The event was initially planned to take place in May at the Kasarani stadium but it was twice moved back due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The championship will have five core events in the gold meeting series – the 200m, 3000m steeplechase, triple jump, discus throw and hammer for both men and women.
Additionally, there will also be the 400m, 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m while the organizers have also included some national events to the local athletes who will have a chance to compete on the home soil.