Kenya Disbands Olympic Committee, Citing Disorganization


David Rudisha, after winning the men’s 800 meters, one of six gold medals won by Kenyans at the Rio Games.Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

NAIROBI, Kenya Missing uniforms. Shabby post-Games accommodations. Problems with airline tickets that left athletes temporarily stranded thousands of miles from home.

At the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Kenya’s National Olympic Committee performed far worse than its athletes, whose 13 medals, including victories in the men’s and women’s marathons and four other events, were the most of any African nation.

So on Thursday, Kenya’s government abruptly disbanded its Olympic committee, blaming it for disorganization that “dampened the spirits and the pride of the people in Kenya.”

David Rudisha, after winning the men’s 800 meters, one of six gold medals won by Kenyans at the Rio Games.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Kenya’s biggest newspapers have run a mix of stories about Kenyan runners’ prowess — the team was the second best performer in track and field, behind the United States — and scandals about the management of the Olympic team.

One Kenyan coach was sent home from Rio for improperly using an athlete’s badge and posing as a runner — even giving a urine test to drug testers — so he could sneak into a dining hall and get a free breakfast.

“Heads Must Roll,” said a headline in The Daily Standard.

The team manager, Michael Rotich, was sent home and arrested after The Sunday Times reported allegations that he agreed to receive a bribe in exchange for helping athletes beat doping tests.

Earlier this week, Wesley Korir, a member of parliament and former Boston Marathon winner who is also the captain of the Olympic team, sent out a barrage ofmessages on Twitter showing pictures of where Kenya’s elite athletes were staying after the Olympic Village closed and a mishap with flight accommodations left them temporarily stranded. Broken-down cars with weeds growing out of them rusted away in front of where the Kenyans were staying.

“The best team in Africa and the second best all over the world in athletics, and this is how they treat us,” Korir said.

Earlier, athletes had complained that some apparel was missing from training and competition kits provided by Nike, the team sponsor.

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, center, won the men’s marathon, followed by Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia, left, in second and Galen Rupp of the United States in third. CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

Hassan Wario, the minister of sports, said in a statement that “there was alleged mismanagement of the facilitation for our athletes and the entire Team Kenya ranging from accommodation and travel mishaps, mishandling of the accreditation of the list of participants, to the provisions of the sports kits that never reached the athletes.”

The allegations “pose an immense threat that will adversely affect the stability and reputation of the Olympic Games in this country,” Wario said.

But the Olympic committee responded by saying that it was refusing to disband and that the government did not have the power to disband it.

The committee’s secretary general, Francis K. Paul, said, “We are not in the wrong.” He added that it would fight in court what it called “government inference.”

Members of the committee said only the International Olympic Committee had the authority to fire them.