Blessing in disguise for Tanzania athletes

TANZANIA athletes have been provided with an opportunity to seek qualifications for the Olympics, after organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games decided to reschedule the quadrennial event.

Organisers have agreed to a one-year postponement of the Games due to begin on July 24th this year because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Games will be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than the summer of 2021.

The latest decision comes in the wake of calls by world leaders to postpone the Tokyo event even as countries begin to withdraw from the event.

And, with latest decision by the International Olympics Committee (IOC), more athletes from Tanzania could seek qualifications.

Only two Tanzanian athletes -- Alphonce Simbu and Failuna Matanga have so far qualified for the Games, while others are still looking for qualifications.

Reacting to the postponement, the Tanzania Olympics Committee (TOC) Secretary General, Filbert Bayi said it could be a blessing in disguise as it is likely to provide a platform for more Tanzanian athletes to seek qualification marks for the Games.

“We are now waiting for more directives form the IOC, in regard to the procedures of qualifications but possibly, there will be much more opportunities for athletes to qualify basing on the time available,’ said Bayi.

Before suspension of the 2020 Tokyo Games, qualification events were due to climax in June this year.

Bayi also told the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the TOC will continue with all necessary preparations and logistics for the Games immediately after notice to lift the mandatory suspension of all sports activities imposed by the government.

“At the moment, TOC will abide by the order of the government to suspend sports activities for at least 30 days due to widespread coronavirus across the globe and we will continue with preparations after the situation comes to normal,” Bayi said.

Bayi named some of the sports disciplines that are still searching for qualifications as athletics, boxing, judo and volleyball.

According to a statement issued yesterday, Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe confirmed that the IOC had agreed to the delay.

Prime Minister Abe and the IOC President, Thomas Bach held a conference call yesterday morning to discuss the constantly changing environment with regard to COVID- 19 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

President Bach and Prime Minister Abe expressed their shared concern about the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and what it is doing to people’s lives and the significant impact it is having on global athletes’ preparations for the Games.

In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the IOC President and the Prime Minister Abe have concluded that the Tokyo Games must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than the summer of 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

The two leaders praised the work of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and noted the great progress being made in Japan to fight against COVID-19.

“I proposed to postpone for a year and (IOC) president Thomas Bach responded with 100 per cent agreement,” Abe said.

A one-year delay would also apply to the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Prime Minister Abe added: “This will make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and will make the event a safe and secure one for spectators.”

Initially, the IOC had given itself until mid-April to make a definite announcement over the future of the 2020 Games.

WITH the current season put on hold due ...

Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter and agency

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