Nairobi News


Shame of Kenyan athletes who went to Rio without kits or with ill-fitting ones

By WANJOHI GITHAE November 29th, 2016 3 min read

Athletes representing Kenya at the Rio Olympics were humiliated after they were either denied their kits or offered ill-fitting ones, a probe report has revealed.

The report also notes that the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) entered into a contract in 2013 with global sports kit company Nike but there is little the athletes have to show for it.

The report noted that the archery team only received ceremonial kit but none for competing and had to use the home-branded kit. It was the same for the swimming team and they had to buy the kit to compete.

Not all accredited media people received uniforms from Nock and some of the lucky ones had to make do with the wrong sizes.


In rugby, both men and women’s teams did not get perfect fits. The women’s team only got theirs in Rio just before match day.

A fraction of the athletics team got small size kits while the race walking team didn’t get competition shoes.

“Over the years, there has always been a hue and cry over kits whenever a national team is travelling to major games (All Africa, Commonwealth or Olympics). Stories of athletes and coaches missing kits and complaining to the manufacturer are not new in Kenya. There is growing concern why this cannot change for better,” says the probe committee.

The committee said the team received less kits than provided by the manufacturer and kit sponsor Nike. On average, each of the 80 athletes received 14 items out of the 27 (men) and 30 (women) that the sponsor provided.

Nike sent several shipments in May and June 2016.


Since Nock and Nike signed a contract in 2013 to sponsor Kenyan teams, kits worth $552,000 (Sh55.2 million) are supplied annually for all teams for use in training and competition.

The committee found that the kits have not been handed over to the teams since 2013.

A scrutiny of the Nike-Nock contract by the probe team shows that Kenya, and especially the athletes, are getting a raw deal.

Most notably, the contract lacks a feasible exit for Nock and it hardly enjoys any post-termination rights, save for cancellation of the contract in the unlikely event Nike is declared bankrupt or fails to remedy contractual inconsistencies within a 30-day window.


That Nike have the right of first dealing and first refusal, makes it practically impossible for Nock to exit or enter into negotiations for a better deal or engage other firms for improved contracts.

“By holding athletes’ image rights in perpetuity, as enshrined in the contract, Nike is essentially contractually enslaving the athletes and giving them no control over use of their images at any given period, even upon expiry of the contract,” says the report.

The probe team calls for Nock to account for an annual grant of $714,000 from Nike. This amount is set to increase to $740,000 from 2017 annually to 2020 when the current contract, signed on May 1, 2013, expires.

The committee also called on Nock to demonstrate that bonus payments by Nike for medals won at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games do reach the individual medalists.


“The committee noted with concern that athletes (including Ezekiel Kemboi, Asbel Kiprop and Julius Yego, for instance, who have won gold medals at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games) have never received such bonuses,” notes the report.

According to the contract, the performance bonuses for the Olympics are $15,000 for gold, $7,500 for silver and $5,000 for bronze. In the Commonwealth Games, the bonuses are $5,000 for gold, $3,000 for silver and $1,500 for bronze.

“The committee noted that while Nike engaged professionals in the execution of the contract, this was not the case with Nock. The contract, on behalf of Nike, is executed by the company’s vice president, Global Sports Marketing, John P. Slusher and Nike’s Global Counsel, Sports Marketing, Gary D. Way, Nock president Kipchoge Keino is the sole signatory,” says the report.