Kenya’s Westgate massacre mall reopens in capital

Updated 18 July 2015

Kenya’s Westgate massacre mall reopens in capital

NAIROBI: Kenya’s Westgate shopping mall reopened for business on Saturday, almost two years after Somali gunmen stormed in and massacred 67 shoppers and staff in four days of carnage.
The complex, Nairobi’s most upmarket shopping center and a magnet for the east African nation’s growing middle class and expatriates, was badly damaged in the assault by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabab rebels and has undergone months of renovation.
Around 50 shoppers — some of them survivors of the massacre — queued to be the first to pass through newly-installed metal detectors at the main entrance, after Nairobi governor Evans Kidero and Atul Shah, owner of the main regional supermarket chain Nakumatt, declared the mall back in business in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“They didn’t kill our spirit,” Kidero said. “We are resilient, we are positive, we always look forward, as demonstrated by the number of people who have come here today.”
“Nairobi is going to boom,” he said, adding next weekend’s visit of US President Barack Obama was also “a vote a confidence for our city and our country.”
By midday, the mall had filled up with hundreds of shoppers. With no memorial of any kind for those who died, fresh coats of paint and the bullet holes filled in, there was no reminder of the horror of September 2013.
“Today we are excited because we are back on our feet, and we can convince the world that terrorism is not bringing us down,” said Ben Mulla, a 34-year-old communications contractor and a siege survivor.
But he said he still had painful memories of the attack.
“I was coming to have a business lunch. The shooting was intense, and I went to hide in a flowerbed. I saw four terrorists... they shot at me and the ricochet from the wall went in my leg. They shot a security guard right in front of me,” he recounted.
“They were young men. They were emotionless. They seemed to be enjoying what they were doing. Their faces I will never forget for the rest of my life.”
The Shabab said they attacked Westgate, which is partly Israeli-owned, as retaliation for the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia as part of an African Union force supporting the internationally-backed Mogadishu government.
Since Westgate, the Shabab have continued to strike on Kenyan soil, with an even bigger attack in April when another four suicide attackers massacred 148 people in Kenya’s northeastern Garissa University, most of them students.


Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

Updated 04 December 2020

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

  • The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime,
  • Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay

TOKYO: The coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics will cost at least an extra $2.4 billion, organizers said Friday, with the unprecedented postponement and a raft of pandemic health measures ballooning an already outsized budget.
The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime, insisting the massive event can go ahead next year even if the pandemic is not under control.
But more spending, on top of the previous budget of about $13 billion, could further harden public opinion in Japan, where polls this year showed a majority of people think the Games should be postponed again or canceled together.
“Whether it’s seen as too much or that we have done well to contain the costs, I think it depends on how you look at it,” Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters.
“We have done all we can to earn the public’s understanding,” he added.
Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay, with another $900 million in spending on coronavirus countermeasures.
The dollar figures are calculated at an exchange rate of 107 yen, and the total is around $2.56 billion at today’s rate. The costs look set to rise further, with Tokyo 2020 saying it would also release an additional $250 million in “contingency” funds.

The new spending swells a budget that was set last year at around $13 billion, and will add to disquiet about the cost of the Games after an audit report last year argued the national government was spending significantly more than originally planned.
The extra costs will be split between Tokyo, the organizing committee and the national government. The International Olympic Committee will not be chipping in, but has agreed to waive its sponsor royalty fee for the first time, organizers said.
The unprecedented decision to delay the Games has thrown up a plethora of extra costs, from rebooking venues and transport to retaining the huge organizing committee staff.
And with organizers committed to hosting the Games even if the pandemic remains a threat, extensive safety measures will be needed.
Tokyo 2020 this week released a 54-page plan they said would make it possible to hold the Games, including restrictions on athletes touching and fans cheering, and an infection control center in the Olympic Village.
Organizers have tried to scale back elements of the Games, offering fewer free tickets, scrapping athlete welcome ceremonies and making savings on mascots, banners and meals, but so far they have cut just $280 million in spending.
And on Thursday, they said 18 percent of Olympic tickets sold in Japan will be refunded, with domestic fans demanding their money back on about 810,000 of the 4.45 million tickets sold in the country.


Organizers hope to now resell those tickets, and demand for seats at the Games was high before the pandemic.
But enthusiasm has since waned, with a poll in July revealing that just one in four people wanted to see the event held in 2021, and most backing either further delay or cancelation.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said the spending plan was carefully considered and he hoped people would accept it.
“If you have a drink, you could say your glass is half-full, or half empty. It depends on how you look at it,” he told reporters.
“There’s a rationale behind this plan. I hope the Japanese people will understand it.”
Tokyo 2020’s final price tag has been hotly disputed, with an audit report last year estimating the national government spent nearly 10 times its original budget between 2013-2018.
Organizers countered that the estimate included items not directly related to the Games.