Tokyo fears loom

Uncertainty continues to build with regard to this June's Tokyo Olympic Games.

13 January 2021 | Sports

LIMBA MUPETAMI

WINDHOEK



The Tokyo Olympic Games, the great pinnacle of the sporting world, might not go ahead as planned, with countries around the world battling outbreaks and Japan battling a surge of Covid-19 cases.

So far, Japan has attributed about 3 800 deaths to Covid-19 in a country of 126 million, with international media reporting that more than 80% of people in Japan who were surveyed in two polls in the last few days say the Olympics should be cancelled or postponed, or say they believe the Olympics will not take place.



Bad news

These results are bad news for Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee; however, they continue to downplay the poll reports, saying it is fake news and that the Olympics will open on 23 July to 8 August 2021.

According to NAMPA/AFP, the Tokyo Olympics CEO Toshiro Muto said they have to guarantee that they hold safe Games with anti-virus measures.

“If you think of it in those terms, I firmly believe people will get more and more behind it.”

Muto also dismissed as “fake news” a Japanese media report claiming the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers would debate the fate of the Games in February.

“When these types of reports surface, some people might feel anxious about them. I want to say that we are not thinking that way at all, and that these reports are wrong.

“We still have a lot to do but we have overcome a lot and that gives us a lot of confidence as an organising committee,” he added. The Olympic Games is expected to attract close to 15 000 athletes from almost 33 countries.



The way forward

As it stands, Namibia-with the rest of the world-waits for the way forward, having athletes who have already secured spots for Tokyo. These are: marathon queen Helalia Johannes, boxer Jonas Junias, rower Maike Diekmann and cyclists Dan Craven and Vera Adrien. Diekmann qualified at the Africa qualifiers in Tunisia last year. Her preparation is assisted by World Rowing and the Olympic Solidarity scholarship.

Road cyclists Craven and Adrien's places were awarded as per Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) ranking.

Jonas qualified at the African Championships in Dakar, Senegal, in February, whereas Johannes qualified after the IAAF World Championships in Doha.



More to qualify

Namibian Sun spoke to the secretary-general of the Namibia National Olympic Committee, Joan Smit, who said that they haven't received confirmation of qualification for sprinter Beatrice Masilingi and can only add her to the qualification list once World Athletics confirms. She further said they are also waiting for new qualification dates and venues for boxing, karate, gymnastics and wrestling. However, swimming and athletics will still be able to qualify until end of June.



Athletes first to get vaccine

If the Olympic Games do take place, senior Olympics official Dick Pound said last week that athletes should be given priority access to the vaccine so the Tokyo Games can go ahead as scheduled. Japan is not expected to begin vaccination before late February.

However, Japanese media reported that prime minister Yoshihide Suga and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates agreed that vaccines must be distributed to developing countries to ensure the safety of the Games.

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