Sports, Heritage and Culture cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed announced the Safari would be included in a nationwide vaccination programme that also features Olympic and Paralympic athletes and personnel working at international sports events hosted in Kenya.
“These events require adequate preparation, including full vaccination and reciprocal compliance with international Covid-19 sporting protocols. I assure the country that this exercise will cover every sportsperson and support personnel wherever they may be,” she said.
The ministry has 3,500 vaccines for the programme which continues until Tuesday (13 April) and clerk of the course Gurvir Bhabra (pictured top) was one of the early recipients.
Video: Safari Rally Kenya 1999
More than 500 Safari staff received their first dose of the AstraZeneca jab at the event’s Moi International Sports Centre base in Nairobi on Thursday (8 April). Second vaccinations will be administered in early June.
Kenya’s government is heavily involved in returning Safari Rally Kenya to the FIA World Rally Championship after a 19-year hiatus and President Uhuru Kenyatta is confident the sixth round of the season will run as planned in the Rift Valley near Naivasha.
Teams are busy finalising their kit for the first long-haul fixture of the season and freight leaves Europe by boat bound for Africa next week.
M-Sport Ford team principal Richard Millener said: “We are probably a couple of weeks early in sending the kit, but it’s better to be a bit more cautious right now.
“We’ve seen problems in global shipping with the issue in the Suez [Canal] and that’s why we’re getting packed up and ready to send it on Monday. We get that kit out of the way and then we’re very focused on Croatia, Portugal and Italy – the events coming in quick succession before Safari.”
Due to the pandemic, the Safari will be the first event outside of Europe since Rally Guanajuato México in March last year.
“It’s good to be heading out of Europe again and exciting to be going to an event like Safari,” added Millener. “Obviously the competition cars and some of the other spares will be flown out closer to the time, but for now we’ll have all the recce cars, lots of spares and all the set-up kit on the way.”
Containers from Hyundai Motorsport and Toyota Gazoo Racing will also begin their African journey next week ahead of the four-day rally which features 18 stages covering 320km.