Bots top athlete jittery over preparations for Tokyo 2020

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Mpho Tebele

Gaborone – Botswana, which has made a mark in recent Olympic Games, has been criticised by a leading athlete over what he perceives a slow pace in preparations.
Writing on his Facebook page, Isaac Makwala wondered when the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) would launch preparations for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Acknowledging that Botswana is targeting at least four medals at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Makwala said, “When is Botswana going to start preparations for the Olympics?”
He said Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were eight months away, adding “it’s not the will to win that matters - everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
The international multi-sport event is scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
Asked to comment on the observation by some athletes who are a bit nervous that the preparations are moving at a snail’s pace, BNOC chief executive officer, Tueleo Serufho, said his organisation was constrained to answer the question in respect of all Botswana athletes and/or teams that were attempting to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“The foregoing is as a result of the fact that government has not availed funding to the BNOC to be able to carry out its responsibility of preparing the Olympic Team,” he said.

Rather, Serufho said, money from government was said to have gone to national federations (Botswana Athletic Association, Botswana Swimming Sport Association etc) adding that “to that respect, a larger part of the preparations are being handled at their level”.
Serufho said the BNOC has since 2017 been supporting more than 15 athletes (the likes of  Nigel Amos, Isaac Makwala, Christen Botlogetswe, Galefele Moroko, Onkabetse Nkobolo etc) and the women’s softball and volleyball teams through funding from the International Olympic Committees’ Olympic solidarity fund.
“So far, qualifications to the 2020 Olympic Games have been from that group. Specifically, only Amos, Botlogetswe and Moroko have qualified,” he said.
Serufho said the BNOC was working around the clock to secure private sector funding, as at this rate, there was a big risk that Botswana may send one of the smallest and least prepared teams to the Olympic Games.
He said qualifications for some sports had already closed and for others, they were closing in early 2020.
“It will therefore be a serious race against time after the festive break, and attempting to qualify very late into the programme also has its own challenges,” he said.
He further stated that since national federations had been given money to prepare and qualify teams, they needed to account for what they had done, or failed to do.

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