Friday’s launch of the bidding process for 2025 World Athletics Championships and other two World Athletics Series events should mark the start of a concerted effort by Kenya to convince the international governing body that it has what it takes to host the crown jewel of athletics competitions. After all, a faint heart never won a fair lady.
On September 29, 2019 during the 17th edition of the World Athletics Championships in Qatar, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed announced to journalists at Ezdan Tower Three in Doha’s city centre where Team Kenya had been residing that the country had submitted a letter of intent to World Athletics (formerly International Association of Athletics Federations – IAAF), signaling its intention to host the senior championship.
Faces of weary Kenyan journalists who had stayed up the previous night to watch Faith Chepng’etich win the women’s marathon instantly lit up. The prospect of hosting the senior track and field championship, regarded as the third largest sporting event in the world (after the Fifa World Cup and the Olympics), was and is still exciting.
While announcing the bid guides for the 2025 World Athletics Championship on Friday, the international governing body for athletics also published bid documents for 2023 World Athletics Road Running Championships and the 2023 World Athletics Relays. The three competitions are World Athletics Series events.
Countries have until March 1 to register their interest and hosts will be known in December.
Hosting the biennial track and field championship that also features marathon and walk races has a lot of benefits for the host country. They include helping to boost the economy of host cities and countries, driving sport tourism, promoting active lifestyles, inspiring youth, and putting existing infrastructure to good use.
In Kenya’s case, the close to 2,000 athletes from more than 200 nations competing for medals in 49 disciplines over 10 days stands to boost the country’s hospitality and tourism sectors.
According to World Athletics estimates, more than one billion people will tune in to watch the championship. With at least 3,000 journalists from media outlets around the world converging on Nairobi to cover the event, a successful bid will lift Kenya’s tourism sector which is reeling from negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“By partnering with World Athletics, a host city takes on a global spotlight, driving the elite profile of athletics both locally and internationally, and encouraging more active communities through legacy programmes that we can help our host cities to develop,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said on Friday during the launch.
According to estimates, the 2017 World Athletics Championships generated a direct economic impact of Sh11.407 billion to the city of London through activities of spectators, athletes and officials, volunteers, media and organisers. In London, a total of 2,913 volunteers served in various departments such as media, protocol, transport, logistics, accommodation, hospitality, medical, ICT, ticketing and technical areas.
Thanks to World Athletics’ decision to host the championship in the continents on a rotational basis, the 2025 edition is certain to be held in Africa.
Should Kenya beat Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa to the hosting rights, the country will have to invest between 70 million – 80 million US dollars (equivalent to between Sh7.66 billion and Sh8.764 billion in current exchange rates) which is the indicative budget by World Athletics.
The money will be spent on logistics (33 percent), broadcast (19 percent), promotional strategy (9 per cent), ticketing operations and hospitality (2 percent), medical and anti-doping (1 percent), prize money (12 percent), event management and presentation (4 percent), event planning (10 percent), additional events (3 percent) and other costs (6 percent).
A successful bid requires financial guarantee from the government which Kenya luckily has. However, as the local organizing committee of Nairobi leg of 2020 World Continental Tour painfully learnt, giving financial guarantees is one thing and availing funds on time is another.
The other bidding requirements are availability of a 30,000-seater stadium, accommodation facilities (four-star or higher) and a mandatory requirement to host the World Athletics Congress (gathering of the highest authority of World Athletics and the sport of athletics globally).
These are conditions Kenya will easily meet, having successfully hosted the 2017 World Under-18 Athletics Championships, and won the rights to host the 2020 World Under-20 Championships.
When World Athletics meets to announce the hosts in December, Kenya’s fate will hinge heavily on how smoothly we host the World Under-20 Championship from July 7-12. – Daily Nation Sports