Ferdinand Omanyala Now To Blame For Visa Saga- Athletics Kenya

AK further alleged that the delay was beyond their control...

Ferdinand Omanyala Now To Blame For Visa Saga- Athletics Kenya
Kenyan sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala. /TWITTER

Athletics Kenya (AK) has broken its silence on the visa saga regarding Africa's fastest man, Ferdinand Omanyala, which narrowly cost him a place at the 2022 World Championships in Oregon, USA.

In a letter signed by its president, Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei on Monday, July 18 and seen by Viral Tea, AK revealed that the sprinter was required to undergo an individual assessment test at the visa section of the US Embassy, a requirement he did not fulfil. 

Neither AK nor the Ministry of Sports under Cabinet Secretary (CS), Amb Amina Mohamed, could intervene as a result, meaning Omanyala had to go through the process on his own. 

Athletics Kenya boss Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei addressing the press at the AK Headquarters on August 27, 2018. /CAPITAL GROUP

“It is important to mention that Ferdinand Omanyala went for Visa Biometrics at the Embassy of the United States in Nairobi on July 7, 2022, alongside other athletes. The rest were issued their visas 2 days later while Omanyala’s passport was not released. 

"When we enquired why, we were informed that he needed to fill in an additional form referred to as supplementary questions for visa applicants to verify some facts," read the statement in part. 

AK further alleged that the delay was beyond their control and that Omanyala had to go through the rest of the procedures individually. 

It conducted trials for the Championships between June 24 and 25, 2022, and selected a delegation of 80 athletes including government officials. Afterwards, it engaged an external expert firm to process the visa applications for the travelling delegation to ensure a smooth process without challenges. 

Oddly enough, Athletics Kenya said it did not engage the Ministry during the initial visa application. 

With regard to the travelling party to the United States, Athletics Kenya denied the presence of 32 unknown individuals who had travelled to Oregon as 'joyriders', instead of the other athletes. 

"The allegation that 32 government officials travelled to Oregon unprocedural is news to Athletics Kenya. To the best of our knowledge, only three Government officials have travelled to Oregon for the 2022 World Athletics Championships. 

"Athletics Kenya expects the Cabinet Secretary to travel to the games as well as have scheduled meetings with Nike and World Athletics,” Tuwei affirmed. 

He further noted that strict measures were enforced to make sure that only designated officials accompany teams to trips abroad. 

AK's statement comes amidst investigations by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) into the visa saga that roped in top government officials. 

The agency's Director, George Kinoti, stated on Friday, July 15 that the detectives had begun probing the alleged addition of non-officials to the list of athletes, coaches and technical officers submitted by Athletics Kenya. 

The alleged increase of the travel list from 80 to 112 officials had apparently led to delays in issuing US travel visas to athletes, including Omanyala. 

“It is really shocking…this is a shame not to the country but to the whole world. We shall not accept,” said Kinoti, while confirming the ongoing investigations, which he said commenced at the invitation of the Ministry of Sports. 

Officers outside the DCI headquarters along Kiambu Road. /DCI

However, officials from the State Department of Sports denied allegations that the non-officials were included in the travel party, with each set to receive Ksh2 million as bribes. 

Joe Okudo, the Principal Secretary in the State Department of Sports, maintained that only six Ministry officials were listed for the day-long trip halfway across the world, mainly for a meeting with Kenya’s chief kitting sponsors Nike who are based in Oregon State.