Kirsty Coventry: the controversial career of an Olympic champion as Zimbabwe’s sports minister

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In recent years, sport has increasingly become a battleground for political battles and struggles for influence on the international stage. The appointment of Kirsty Coventry as Zimbabwe’s Minister of Sports, Arts and Entertainment following a controversial presidential election is a prime example of this. The decision has sparked much debate and criticism both inside and outside the country.

Coventry has a rich sporting career under her belt – she is a two-time Olympic swimming champion. But her first ministerial term was marred by scandals and allegations of ineffective performance. Despite this, President Emmerson Mnangagwa entrusted her with the post again, saying he was satisfied with the minister’s performance.

Controversial election and political fallout

Zimbabwe’s presidential election, which resulted in Mnangagwa’s re-election for a second term, was accompanied by numerous irregularities and allegations of fraud. The opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change party called them a “gigantic fraud,” and international observers pointed out that the elections did not meet regional and international standards.

In such circumstances, Coventry’s reappointment to a senior government post sparked a new wave of criticism. The opposition has expressed concern that close relatives of the president have also been given influential positions, including his son becoming deputy finance minister and his nephew becoming deputy tourism minister.

Kirsty Coventry: from sportswoman to politician

Kirsty Coventry is an iconic figure for Zimbabwe. She has excelled in sport, winning two Olympic gold medals in swimming. Her appointment as minister in 2018 was greeted with enthusiasm, but disappointment soon followed.

Coventry found herself at the centre of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) scandal. She accused the association’s leadership of embezzling some state funding and sexually harassing female referees. FIFA suspended ZIFA but later reinstated its membership and set up an interim Normalization Committee.

Despite criticism and accusations of inefficiency, Mnangagwa decided to keep Coventry in her ministerial post. He stated that he was satisfied with her performance and that only the president had the right to judge the competence of ministers.

The role of sport in world politics

The case of Kirsty Coventry vividly demonstrates how sport is increasingly being used as a tool of political influence and propaganda. International sports organizations and tournaments have long been a platform for defending national interests and promoting a particular political agenda.

However, all these underhand games do not prevent sports in Zimbabwe from developing. The proof of this development is the fact that, at the moment, such top bookmakers as Melbet, 1xBet or Parimatch accept bets on many Zimbabwean sporting events. Just type in the query 1xbet download 2024, download the app and see just how popular Zimbabwean sports are in the betting industry.

Zimbabwe, which has fallen on hard times, is looking to strengthen its position through sports. The figure of a famous female athlete in a high-profile position is meant to improve the country’s image and emphasize its commitment to the Olympic ideals.


The reappointment of Kirsty Coventry as Minister of Sports in Zimbabwe is a development that goes far beyond the country’s domestic politics. It touches on issues of sports diplomacy, the use of sports for political purposes and the role of international organizations in conflict resolution in this area.

The situation around Coventry demonstrates how closely intertwined sport and big politics are in the modern world. Whatever its further development, it will be closely monitored by the international community as an illustrative case of the interaction between politics and sport.