Passport

Kenya’s Cheapskate Olympic Committee Strands its Team in Rio

The Kenyan Olympic Committee organized a disastrous appearance at the Rio games.

ATHENS - AUGUST 24:  Gold medalist Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya, silver medalist Brimin Kipruto of Kenya (R) and bronze medalist Paul Kipsiele Koech of Kenya celebrate on the podium during the medal ceremony of the 3,000 metre steeplechase medal ceremony on August 24, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in the Sports Complex in Athens, Greece..  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
ATHENS - AUGUST 24: Gold medalist Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya, silver medalist Brimin Kipruto of Kenya (R) and bronze medalist Paul Kipsiele Koech of Kenya celebrate on the podium during the medal ceremony of the 3,000 metre steeplechase medal ceremony on August 24, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in the Sports Complex in Athens, Greece.. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Kenya took home more medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics than any other African country, but that apparently that wasn’t enough for its Olympic Committee to dish out the cash to bring its athletes home to celebrate.

According to Wesley Korir, an Olympic marathoner who doubles as a lawmaker, Kenyan athletes are still stranded in Rio de Janeiro because the National Olympic Committee extended their stay to “find cheap flights.”

In a days-long rant on Twitter this week, Korir said they were moved out of the Olympic Village when it closed and put into housing where they could hear gunshots and were urged not to go outside.

The only Kenyan athletes who have returned home are reportedly the ones who paid their own way back, and Kenyan media has reported that they are avoiding public celebrations of their successes to protest managers of their Olympic committee.

“We don’t want people to hog publicity from our arrival when they have treated us badly,” one unidentified athlete told Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation.

The delayed departure of medal-winning Kenyan athletes is the latest in a series of embarrassing gaffes that have shed light on the country’s poor management of its Olympic program.

Ahead of sprinter Ferguson Rotich’s race in Rio earlier this month, sprint coach John Anzrah borrowed the athlete’s identification card to get free breakfast in the athletes’ village. When an Olympic official figured he was in fact Rotich, he pulled him aside for a urine test — and the coach complied. When Rotich caught wind of what had happened, he informed the authorities and took the test himself, and Kip Keino, chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, claimed he didn’t even know Anzrah was there in the first place. That strange incident came shortly track and field manager Michael Rotich (no relation to Ferguson) offered to warn athletes if they were going to be tested for doping, for the fine sum of around $13,000 each.

Kenya has dismissed its Olympic organizing committee and ordered a probe to figure out how any of this happened at all.

Korir, the marathoning lawmaker, tweeted that he is “willing and ready” to hand in a report on the “Olympics mess” that he experienced at the hands of Kenyan officials this year.

Photo credit: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola