Magical Kenya Open is in self-quarantine and will be back in a few months
Sports-Golf-ESTHER HENSELEIT-GERMANY; German Lady Professional Golfer Esther Henseleit follows her swing at Vipingo Baobab Resort Golf Course on Saturday,07th December 2019. This was in the rounds of the Magical Kenya Ladies open Golf Championships for the European Ladies Open.[Maarufu Mohamed.Standard]

Man plans, God laughs. The plans were grand; the Magical Kenya Open was going to be the best yet.

We had learnt from last year’s mistakes and this time, we were not going to leave anything to chance. We were on top of our game.

The TV towers and more than half the tents were already up. All the requisite equipment for airing the Magical Kenya Open to 400 million households worldwide were all in place.

The advance team from the European Tour had arrived in the country and was ready to help put the final touches. Thanks to the unseasonable rains, the Karen Country Club golf course has never looked so good at this time of the year.

All was going very well until the announcement by Health Cabinet Secretary, Mutahi Kagwe, that all events of an international nature had to be postponed.

I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. On the one hand, I fully understood where the good CS was coming from. He is in charge of the health docket and must do all that he can to protect Kenyan lives.

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I met a group of golfers immediately after the announcement was made. At that point, I was feeling deflated and was still in denial. Were we going to halt all preparations at this late stage? 

The golfers even suggested that it was incumbent on us to lobby and get the decision reversed. It was at that point that it hit me; what if we lobbied and were allowed to have the Magical Kenya Open as scheduled.

What would happen to us if as a result of the event, the first case of Coronavirus infection was reported in Kenya?

Just the previous day, I was talking to the Magical Kenya Open tournament doctor, Dr Peter Wambugu and lead doctor from the medical service provision partner AAR Medical Services, Dr Eva Njuguna.

I asked them if they had any fears of the international players spreading the virus to Kenya.

They both agreed that it was a possibility but they were more afraid of the Kenyan spectators, some of whom have been travelling the world, spreading and infecting others.

“The probability of the spectators spreading the virus is higher than getting it from the players” added Dr. Wambugu. 

I could tell from the discussion with Dr. Wambugu and Dr. Njuguna that they were uncomfortable about the uncertainty surrounding the disease.

They were not going to back down and had made plans for an isolation room for any suspected cases. At that point, we seemed all set and there was no turning back.

When the following day the Kenya Open Golf Limited contacted the European Tour with the bad news, my emotions were kicked from pillar to post. On the one hand, I was glad the Kenyan government had taken steps to protect her citizens, but on the other, I was gutted to see all the preparations come to naught.

The message that came back from the European Tour helped take the edge off the initial disappointment. They fully understood and respected the government’s decision and were looking at the possibility of rescheduling the event.

The Magical Kenya Open is in self-quarantine and will, if God wills, be back in a few months.

My joy was restored this past weekend by another Mutahi; the junior golfing sensation Mutahi Kibugu, who won the Sigona Bowl, which is part of the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship.

The young Mutahi, who was among the six amateur golfers slated to play in the Magical Kenya Open, beat another junior golfer Adam Tayebjee in a playoff this past Sunday for his second win this season. 

Wang’ombe is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited


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