The postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to next year has its ups and downs for Team Namibia, Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) Secretary-General Joan Smit said.
The games were due to start in July but have been postponed until the summer of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an interview with Nampa, Smit said a decision has already been taken that those who qualified for the games, will keep their spots. “Before the games were postponed, 53% of the spots at the Olympic Games were already allocated to those who qualified, we just had 43% left which will now be competed for once the Covid-19 pandemic has stabilised and sports competitions commence.”
The bright side of postponing the games, she said, is that Namibians who did not qualify to go to the competition can now try their best to do so. Those who have already qualified might however no longer be at their peak come July 2021.
“We currently have older athletes who are at the peak of their careers this year and I hope come 2021 the likes of Helalia Johannes (marathon runner) and Dan Craven (cyclist) will still be in the top shape they are in at the moment as they are not growing any younger,” she said.
Smit stated that financially, the NNOC and the ministry of sport, youth and national service had a budget but due to the economic crisis they did not have the funds to prepare the team. They are hopeful that with the postponement of the competition, they will get the funds to prepare well.
“Next year is going to be busy because we have the Youth Commonwealth Games. It will require a lot of money for the NNOC to take athletes to all these competitions,” said Smit, who added that she is happy that athletes who are under the Olympic Solidarity scholarship will remain on the programme until the Olympic Games in 2021.
The five athletes who have secured places for the Olympic Games are cyclist Vera Adrian and two-time Olympian Dan Craven, marathon runner Helalia Johannes, boxer Junius Jonas and rower Maike Diekmann. – Nampa