Some 32 people were at the heart of the controversy that surrounded delays by Kenyan athletes to travel to Oregon, United States for the World Athletics Championships.
It was not until two days ago when the first alarm bells rang after it emerged that star athletes, including fast-rising sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala, had not obtained their travel visas.
The games are starting on Friday, July 15, but less than 24 hours to the big day, some of our sportsmen and women are stranded.
The athletes were scheduled to travel a week to the games, but crooks at the Ministry of Sports caused confusion at the US embassy in Nairobi where visa processing has been happening.
Athletics Kenya (AK) gave only 80 people the green light to travel, either as athletes or officials, but schemers at the ministry included 31 individuals, pushing the number of participants to 112.
A source confided to a local daily that money changed hands.
The 32 joyriders were paying as high as Ksh2 million to be included in the list, the source claimed. Simple calculations indicate that the crooks might have collected Ksh64 million or even more.
“We are anxiously waiting for the US embassy to issue visas for several athletes, including Omanyala,” AK executive member Barnabas Korir said. Some participants jetted out on Monday.
But the ever-busy, good folks on social media have been relentless, calling out the government for poor coordination of the whole process. Evidently, their noise reached those big buildings where concerned officials in rolling chairs sit.
Earlier today, Omanyala had reportedly pulled out of the games after the visa saga, but later it was reported that his travel documents had been approved.
He will fly out at 6 pm today and arrive in Oregon at 4 pm (US time), less than three hours before his race.
However, the fastest man in Africa downplayed claims that he had been frustrated, saying that the most important thing now is that he will represent his country.
“There is nobody to blame here, it is the system. You cannot just force anything,” he said.
Omanyala is optimistic that he will bring Kenya glory.
“I pray that I make it on time and God gives me the grace to handle the pressure.”