Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) was amongst other National Olympics Committees (NOC’s) across Africa who vehemently supported the International Olympics Committee (IOC)’s statement that maintained its stand that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will go ahead as planned despite growing numbers of Corona Virus across the world.
International sports bodies around the globe including Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) have been cancelling and postponing lots of international sports events including the Olympics qualifiers after the virus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation recently.
Part of the IOC statement released early last week states that: “This is an unprecedented situation for the whole world. We are in solidarity with the whole of society to do everything to contain the virus. The situation around the COVID-19 virus is also impacting the preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and is changing day by day. The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions. The IOC encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as best they can,”.
However, the BNOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho said they voted unanimously in support of IOC’s position alongside other African National Olympics Committees in a teleconference meeting they had with the IOC President Thomas Batch on Tuesday.
“we had a virtual meeting with the IOC, and we are of the view that there is a lot of work that is being done on the ground to contain and stop the spread of the covid-19 virus. We are quite confident that with all the efforts that are being taken by most countries across the world it’s a matter of time this issue will be contained hence our stand not to call off or postpone the Olympic games. We believe that they will believe that they will happen in July without any fear or disturbance” he said.
Serufho further revealed that the IOC and other international federations of various sport code are working around the clock to revise the Olympics qualifying systems in order to accommodate athletes for the lost time.
“they are both in talks to see how best they amend the qualifications systems, so it does not disadvantage athletes who are aspiring to qualify for the games. We do believe that even Batswana athletes would not suffer any disadvantage as would the athletes from the rest of the world. We as the BNOC while we ensure that we take all the necessary precautions measures we advise our athletes to continue preparing for the games so that when the qualifications competitions resume, they are ready to compete,” he added.
Contrary to IOC’s position some international athletes, sports administrators and pundits have criticised the Olympics body’s decision to not postpone the Olympics as this puts their lives in danger.
He assured the nation that they are seriously taking precautionary measures especially for athletes who have been in camp before the outbreak so that they are not exposed to chances of contacting the virus.
“we cannot compromise the health of our athlete’s anyhow and we have been monitoring our athletes closely and we have now allocated them separate rooms in hotels, they are no longer sharing as they previously did’ Serufho concluded.
Botswana has 5 individual athletes who have qualified for the Olympics namely; Amantle Montsho, Christine Botlogetswe, Galefele Moroko (400m), Nigel Amos (800m) and Keamogetse Kenosi of Boxing.