Kenya could become the first-ever African nation to host the Summer Olympic Games, reported the Financial Times on Thursday, after Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced his intention to bid for the 2024 Olympics in the capital of Nairobi.
According to Odinga, Africa’s time to host the games had come, especially after South Africa’s and Egypt’s attempt to host the games, in 2004 and 2008 respectively, had failed.
Additionally, Odinga believed the Olympics would bring a massive psychological boost to his country, as well as provide “enormous benefits” in terms of investment in infrastructure.
“Kenya had the confidence as far back as 1968 to consider bidding for the Olympics,” he said, citing how the nation had flirted with the idea to host the Olympics as far back as 1963, when the country attained independence.
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Odinga’s announcement took a number of Kenyan officials by surprise, though they all expressed hope that the Olympic bid would spark more investments into the country.
"The facilities (in Kenya) are not conducive, they are not good enough," said Isiah Kiplagat, chairman of Kenya's athletics federation to Reuters.
But hosting the Olympics is "really a golden opportunity. The opportunities are there for you to invest in high-altitude training centres," Kiplagat noted.
Speaking in London, Kenya’s Sports Minister Paul Otuoma also acknowledged that Nairobi had a lot of work to do before trying to match the standards of the 2012 Olympics.
Other countries and cities reportedly also thinking about bidding for 2024 Olympics include New York, San Francisco, Durban, Doha, Argentina, France, Morocco and Egypt.
While International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said that he would love to have seen an African bid for the 2020 games, the current shortlist is comprised only of Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid.
East Africa’s largest economy, Kenya will likely have to spend up to $15 billion if they are successful in bidding for the Olympics.
The decision on which city to host the Olympics will be made by 2017, with the campaign trail likely to begin two years in advance.