NAIROBI – The African Games have lost their gloss and glamour with top Kenyan athletes opting not to travel to Rabat, Morocco for this year’s competition.
In Kenya, there has been no live feed or broadcast of the Africa Games, which started on Aug. 19 and will be ending on Saturday.
Generally, top continental media houses would be bidding large amounts to secure the exclusive rights to broadcast the games.
None of that is happening through French sports channel Canal+, which has no partner in East Africa, won the rights to broadcast the African Games in Sub-Saharan Africa with SuperSport retaining the rights of broadcasting the African Games in South Africa while beIN Sports is broadcasting the African Games in North Africa.
But a week after the games started, no television station in Kenya is broadcasting the games, a confirmation of how the competition, which is equated to a Mini-Olympics has lost its glamour.
This is unlike the football’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), which was followed religiously in Kenya and East African states.
Several elite runners including Africa 5,000m champion Edward Zakayo, USA-based 800m athletes Emmanuel Korir, Michael Saruni, Beatrice Chepkoech, world record holder in the women’s 3,000 meters steeplechase, and Hyvin Kiyeng, former world champion are some of the stars missing from the Kenya team that left for Rabat on Sunday.
Former World 800m champion Paul Ereng, who trains Saruni, said his athlete is focused on the World Championships and will pass the chance to compete at Africa Games.
“Every training and racing Saruni is doing now is geared towards his preparations for the World Championships trials,” said Ereng.
Chepkoech, who finished fourth at the 2017 World Championships and Rio Olympics, says she will only focus on retaining her Diamond Trophy at the lucrative IAAF Diamond League in Zurich on Thursday (Aug.29) and preparing for the World Championships in Doha next month.
“Kenya has enough talent, young energetic athletes bubbling with confidence, eager to showcase their talent,” Chepkoech said. “Let them carry the flag in Morocco.”