Kenyan sports will remain banned for the next 30 days after President Uhuru Kenyatta extended the period on Monday.
The football fraternity was praying hard that the President would ease the restrictions and allow sports activities to resume but it was not the case as he moved to extend the ban on all social gatherings for the next 30 days, meaning it will now elapse on August 6.
The President, however, announced the cessation of movement into and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa and Mandera counties will lapse on Tuesday at 04:00 but extended the nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew for 30 more days.
“By reopening [the three counties], we must be cognisant of the fact that we are much more at risk when the restrictions were in place. We must exercise cautious optimism,” Kenyatta said during the address to the nation.
The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) had hoped the ban will be lifted to allow teams to start pre-season training ahead of the new Kenyan Premier League (KPL) season set to kick-off at the end of August.
Kenya’s top-flight was halted in mid-March after the outbreak of the coronavirus and FKF moved to end the 2019-20 campaign, giving the title to Gor Mahia, who were leading the 17-team table and promoting Nairobi City Stars and Bidco United.
The latest move by the government now means clubs will not be able to start pre-season training in readiness for the new season.
FKF CEO Barry Otieno told Goal they will meet in the course of the week to discuss the latest decision by the government.
“We will have to meet and decide on what should be done next because our season is due to start in August and we hope the clubs will be ready by then,” Otieno told Goal.
Kakamega Homeboyz chairman Cleophas Shimanyula wondered why the president had opened churches to be attended by less than 100 people and left out sports.
“It is unfortunate the President overlooked sports and gave churches the green light to resume summons every Sunday, churches, and football are almost similar and he should have allowed teams to start kicking the ball,” Shimanyula told Goal.
The ban also means Gor Mahia will now conduct their much-awaited elections, set for August 8, through an electronic process since club members cannot be allowed to congregate in one centre.
On July 1, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed appointed an Advisory Committee meant to draw up protocols required for the resumption of sporting activities in the country, and a report from the team is expected to be presented to the Cabinet Secretary by July 10, 2020.