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Wealthy Nigerians Exploring New Experience In Rwanda, What Is It?

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It’s a new dawn in the tourism sector in Rwanda as tourists begin to explore a new form of spending good time in the country and enjoying what it has to offer.

Recently, 23 Golfers from IKOYI club, Nigeria, visited Rwanda for a 10 day holiday to play golf and experience other tourism attractions around the country.

Out of the 10 days, they decided to spend five of them playing golf at the exquisite Falcon Golf and Country Club, a home to golf in Rwanda since 2019 when the only second golf club in Rwanda, the Kigali Golf Club, was closed for reconstruction. Falcon Golf Club is located at the shores of Lake Muhazi, at Gati peninsula, Rwamagana district.

The Nigerian group leader and a former Captain of IKOYI Golf club with membership of 10,000 players and 2,800 golf sections, Tayo Babalakin, talked to Taarifa on this memorable visit. “We had a good time indeed,” he said, adding that, “this is our fourth time coming to Rwanda, but we said, let’s play golf this time around.” On the team was also Jacob Erhabor, former Managing Director of Sonarwa, who was glad to come back to Rwanda.

Golf is a non contact sport, however, like any other sports conducted globally during the existing threat of Covid 19 pandemic, Falcon Golf Club turns into an isolated bubble where no one can access the facility without being tested for Covid 19, and with the help of district medical clinics.

Different institutions, such as the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Sports Ministry, and Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB) were consulted and provided guidance on how the tourists should enjoy their stay and in a safe environment.

Falcon Golf Club management told Taarifa that RBC provided one staff to assist throughout their stay and that local authorities provided support in terms of security to ensure the Covid bubble is maintained.

Our reporter, Adrien Kubwayo visited the course to witness this new fond touristic experience. He says visitors when presented with a menu for their lunch after their game, they all went for a delicious Tilapia from Lake Muhazi.

He however noted that, more hotels are needed in Rwamagana district because these tourists had to commute daily from Kigali to Falcon Golf club, a situation he said would have made it more comfortable were the tourists able to stay near the golf club.

The Managing Director of Falcon Golf Club, Michael Bayingana, who said Covid 19 affected all sectors in the country, but more so sports and entertainment businesses that required many people converging to one place.

On Saturday May 29, 2021, golfers in Rwanda who were cleared after Covid 19 testing, had the opportunity to play a round of golf with the Nigerian visitors, to conclude their trip.

The proprietor of the facility, Innocent Rutamu, who is also a golfer told Taarifa that Golf Tourism has great potential for Rwanda, if the basics are put in place.

“One of the major conditions is to have a minimum of three golf courses as golf tourists on average spend 10 to 12 days in a country if they have a variety of courses to play,” he said, adding that, “Rwanda has good weather all year round for golf. Other factors such as safety and security are already in place, so we are at an advantage.”

Observers say institutions responsible for tourism should learn a thing or two about golf if they have to give the same support given to Cycling or Basketball.

Indeed, last week RDB’s CEO, Clare Akamanzi spoke to The New Times and BBC that Rwanda is keen on replicating experiences such as the just concluded Basketball African League to increase and diversify tourism activities.

“The first objective as a country is to become a sports tourism destination…looking at resumption of tourism in our country, and the fact that many tourists have postponed their visits, and some have cancelled their visits, many of the events had to be postponed such as the Commonwealth Forum, many meetings are held online, we have to think about the years ahead, and of the ways we are looking at is to increase the number of sports events,” Akamanzi told BBC mid May 2021.

Meanwhile, Taarifa is privy to information that The Sunshine Tour, the biggest golf tour in Africa has been trying to put Rwanda on their circuit but received minimal encouragement to do so.

Once the Sun Shine Tour has a country in its circuit, the country receives about 400 high end tourists annually who come for the event. Kenya and Mauritius, and a few Southern Africa countries are enjoying this benefit, currently.

Another country eying golf tourism is Kenya, and the country seems to be at advanced stage.

In 2018, Kenya recorded 2 million tourist arrivals, and the country is now laying focus on tapping into the huge potential that exists in golf tourism, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Mr Najib Balala told golfers in February 2019.

Speaking at the prestigious Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Vipingo Ridge Baobab Course, Kilifi County in February 2019, Balala promised to promote Kenya as a wonderful golf tourism destination. “Rwanda wouldn’t want to miss this boat,” Rutamu told Taarifa in 2020 when Falcon Golf Course hosted the Rwanda Summer Golf tournament for the domestic market.

According to a report published by Technavio.com, Global Golf Tourism Market 2017 – 2021, the global golf tourism market in 2016 totalled a huge US$22.92 billion and from their research this market will total $44.6 billion by end of 2021.

The industry thrives when visitors meet local players. For golf to develop in Rwanda, training should start from primary school using football pitches for short range play and then have access to available facilities such as Falcon golf Club or Kigali Golf Course, unfortunately this sport is still treated with stereotypes that it is a sport for the rich and the lazy.

Those who know its potential usually talk not about it. Meet them on the course and at the club house, that’s when the conversations light up, otherwise, they usually keep it to themselves. It is an intimate relatiohsip.

Meanwhile, the Nigerians discovered a gem, and they are planning to return soon for more.

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Sports

No Condom Distribution in Tokyo Olympic Village

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You may have to be extremely think twice before zipping down at the Tokyo Olympics Village because there is no distribution of condoms yet alcohol is allowed.

The organizing committee of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics said Sunday that participants will be allowed to bring alcoholic beverages into the athletes’ village for consumption in their rooms, as part of efforts to ensure the safety of the games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

To prevent the spread of the virus, the organizing committee said it will not distribute condoms to participants during their stay in the village but on their departure, a break from recent Olympic tradition.

Condoms have been given to participants since the 1988 Seoul Olympics to raise AIDS awareness, according to the committee.

With around a month to go until the start of the Olympics, five organizing bodies of the games, including the Japanese and Tokyo metropolitan governments and the International Olympic Committee, will decide (today) Monday on how many spectators will be allowed at venues.

According to sources privy with this matter, the organizers are considering allowing around 20,000 spectators for the Olympic opening ceremony late next month.

The spectator cap for the ceremony at the National Stadium on July 23 would include both ticket holders from the general public and officials related to the games, the sources said.

The Japanese government has said it will allow up to 10,000 people at events such as sports games and concerts in areas that are not under a COVID-19 state of emergency or a quasi-emergency, as long as they do not exceed 50% of venue capacity.

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World Rally Championship Returns To Kenya

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Motor sport enthusiasts will once again next week get a chance of enjoying racing cars in the worlds toughest race.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday said, it had taken the country years of negotiations and preparations to bring back the World Rally Championship (WRC) event after an 18-year absence.

“My hope and my prayer is that the manner in which we shall conduct ourselves over the next few days will be such that everybody will accept and understand that the Safari Rally is now here and is here to stay, and we’re not likely to lose it,” President Uhuru said.

He however, said, ” it will depend on not only with how you all perform, all the agencies involved will perform but how Kenyans themselves will behave,” the President said.

President Uhuru presented brand new rally cars to young Kenyan drivers Hamza Anwar (22), McRae Kimathi (26) and Jeremy Wahome (22). The three drivers are sponsored for the WRC Safari Rally by Safaricom and Kenya Airways.

According to organisers, 58 drivers have been confirmed for the event, 24 of them foreigners with the most prominent being Frenchman Sébastien Ogier who has claimed seven WRC titles in the last eight seasons.

The event, will take place in the scenic town of Naivasha in Nakuru County. It was restored to the WRC calendar following an intensive campaign led by President Uhuru.

Rose Wachuka, the Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage, it is a “moment of pride” for Kenya.

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Sports

Tough Rules Set For Tokyo Olympics

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Tokyo the capital city of Japan is at the moment the most busy destination for athletes as they jet in ahead of the forthcoming Olympics.

According to the itenerary the Olympics open on July 23 followed by the Paralympic on August 24.

Organisers say say 15,400 athletes are expected for the Olympics and Paralympics.

Including athletes, the total number expected for both events, factoring in media, broadcasters, Olympic Family, sponsors and others is about 93,000.

With the deadly Covid-19 pandemic everywhere on the globe, the Tokyo Olympics will take place under strict guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of the virus that has killed 3.82million people globally.

All those entering Japan for the Olympics will be required to follow complex testing rules – before leaving home and after arriving.

They must also agree to have their location monitored by GPS, download several apps, sign a pledge to follow the rules, maintain social distancing, stay off public transportation for the first 14 days and keep organizers informed of your whereabouts.

“We expect everybody to follow the rules. But we also have to be aware there could be infractions,” said Olympic Games Operations Director Pierre Ducrey, also speaking remotely.

“Yes, we expect you to play by the rules, but if you don’t there will be sanctions that could be coming your way.”

Ducrey said the range of punishments could go from a warning, to temporary or permanent expulsion from the Olympics, to withdrawal of accreditation or a fine.

Officials also suggested the Japanese government has the power of deportation, and individual sports federations and national Olympic committees may have their own penalties.

Dubi declined to offer specifics about possible financial penalties. He said that would be determined by a disciplinary commission.

But he said rules would apply “before, during and after” athletes compete.

“It is to reinforce the message, which is: The Playbooks are there to be followed. No transgressions,” Dubi said.

Athletes are also being required to sign waivers, typical of the Olympics. This time an added clause relieves the IOC of responsibly from any fallout from COVID-19.

Dubi suggested athletes or national federations would have insurance coverage for most eventualities.

“Then there are a number of cases for which the risks cannot be covered and this is then the responsibility of the participants,” Dubi said. He said this was standard practice in the sports industry.

The International Olympic Committee says more that 80% of those staying in the Olympic Village will be fully vaccinated.

This contrasts with about 5% of the Japanese population that has been vaccinated in a slow rollout that is just now speeding up.

The Japanese medical community has largely opposed holding these Olympics in Tokyo, arguing the risks are too great.

The government’s main medical adviser Dr. Shigeru Omi has said it’s “abnormal” to hold the Olympics during a pandemic.

Tokyo and other regions of the country remain under a state of emergency that expires on Sunday.

Reports in Japan suggest the government is likely to lift the state of emergency but still impose rules on restaurant hours and other businesses that draw crowds.

Fans from abroad have been banned from Tokyo and organizers say a decision on having any local fans at Olympic venues will be announced by the end of the month.

Japan has officially spent $15.4 billion on organizing the Olympics, although government audits say the figure is much larger.

Jeff Shell, who heads NBCUniversal, said this week these Olympics might be the most profitable ever, despite the pandemic.

NBC, the American rights holder, is the single largest source of IOC income, representing about 40% of total income.

It paid the IOC about $4.4 billion for four Olympics from 2014 through 2020, and $7.75 billion more for six games – 2022 through 2032.

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