KENYA (AP) — The IOC has cut funding to Kenya and said Thursday it will make a decision over the country’s Olympic future at an executive board meeting next week, when the track and field power faces the prospect of being banned.
The IOC statement came after National Olympic Committee of Kenya executives, led by former distance running great Kip Keino, defied the IOC at a meeting on Tuesday and refused to make changes to their constitution.
It was the second time in a week where the NOCK failed to adopt governance changes in a new constitution, which the IOC has asked it to do.
Kenya will now be on the agenda of the IOC board meeting in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next Thursday and Friday, the IOC said. The IOC wouldn’t be drawn on whether Kenya’s Olympic committee would be suspended, but did not rule it out.
“The IOC is extremely disappointed by the outcome of the NOC extraordinary general assembly which did not address governance issues in the appropriate way,” the IOC said.
The IOC has now put on hold “all payments of subsidies to the NOC of Kenya” until a decision is made next week, it said.
Kenya is a force in track and field, finishing second behind the U.S. in the Rio Olympic track and field medal standings. But its track federation and Olympic committee have been dogged by scandals, most recently when high-ranking NOCK officials were arrested and charged with the theft of money and equipment provided by sponsor Nike following the Rio Games.
The one positive for Kenya is that an IOC ban now would give it three years to put its house in order before the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.
Kenya’s Olympic committee was effectively disbanded by the government following Rio and the IOC and the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa have been trying to piece it back together.
At Tuesday’s meeting, though, the 13 members of the NOCK executive committee voted against constitutional changes, which needed a two-thirds majority to be passed. The 19 sports federations affiliated to Kenya’s Olympic committee voted for the changes, but their votes weren’t enough.
IOC observers at Tuesday’s meeting left without commenting, but Kenyan track federation official Barnaba Korir said the country was in trouble.
“The observers looked very upset and my fear is Kenya is in for a big problem,” Korir said.
If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.
Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.
Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.
If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.
Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.
The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.
Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.
The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.
Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.
Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.
Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.
The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.