No spectators as teams arrive for official opening ceremony of the continental showpiece

Thursday, September 9th, 2021 20:52 | By
Official mascot for the Africa Deaflympics Championships is unveiled during a ceremony presided over by Sports PS Joe Okudo at the Kenya Technical Training Institute for the Deaf in Karen, Nairobi yesterday. Photo/PD/EDWIN OTIENO

Edwin Otieno

Teams started arriving yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s official opening ceremony of the Africa Deaflympics Ball Games in Nairobi.

Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairman Gordon Oluoch said Senegal was the first team to arrive for the two-week competition.

He said 16 countries had confirmed participation in the inaugural continental showpiece that will see them rub shoulders in football and basketball for both men and women.

Other confirmations are expected in the country today for the events include Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Gambia, Zanzibar, Somaliland, Gabon, Egypt, Libya, Liberia, Cameroon and Mauritania.

Basketball will be played at the Nyayo National Stadium while football will take place at Moi International Sports Center Kasarani.

The event will be used as a yardstick to pick African qualifiers to the 2022 Deaflympics slated for Brazil.

A total of 23 countries had initially showed interest to the event but the number was reduced to 16 as a result of financial constraints and Covid-19 related issues, Oluoch explained.

‘Tanzania has just opted out due to Covid-19 related issues with their government ruling out its representation. Most of the countries should be in by Friday afternoon,” Oluoch said told People Sport.

He noted that Kenya was picked to stage this prestigious championships following the successful hosting of the Deaf Athletics Championship in Nairobi in 2019.

“It’s a great honor and I feel very privileged that we were chosen to host this prestigious event for the first time this year.

It’s always very difficult to win while playing away, so I urge our athletes to take full leverage on the great facet of being the home team.

A total of 1000 participants will be part of the inaugural event, the first of it’s kind in the region,” said Oluoch.

Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo on behalf of Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed pledged continual support to the deaf sports fraternity adding that all medalists will be rewarded in similar spirit and manner as other sports personalities from Paralympics and the able-bodied Olympians.

Yesterday’s launch at the Kenya Technical Training Institute for the Deaf in Karen also unveiled the event’s Mascot which is representative of the world’s fastest animal, the Cheetah.

“The cheetah being the fastest land animal, I’m sure it will inspire our athletes to showcase grrat talent and speed as they seek to conquer the rest of the continent,” Okudo said.

Okudo also added that the championships will be free from doping with strict Covid-19 protocols being observed through the competition.

He announced that there will be no spectators allowed at both venues in line with Ministry Of Health social gathering guidelines.

“We shall conduct regular COVID-19 tests to ensure the safety of all and sundry at the event,” the PS said.

The launch was attended by various spotting stakeholders among them the president of Kenya Federation of Deaf Sports, Peter Kalae, Chief Executive of the Games Miriam Opondo and the Principal of Kenya Technical Training Institute for the Deaf Tecla Chembo.

Opondo noted that the deaf sports have been neglected for many years with no financial support forthcoming from the corporate and government.

“Lack of awareness has also seen the sporting fraternity relate deaf sports to Paralympics yet they were two independent sports.

We are happy that the Government has come through and committed to support us for the long haul,” she explained, adding that this is the reason why deaf sports had stagnated for donkey’s years.

Kalae on his part remarked: “We thank the Government for their support in the growth of deaf sports.

This is now an opportunity to showcase the pride and talent of the deaf culture in the continent.”

Chembo said: “The Games will deliver a more deaf inclusive society in our community. It’s also a platform for change in our society in Kenya and abroad.”

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