SUPERSTARS Caster Semenya, Chad le Clos and all Region Five Annual Sports Awards finalists should attend the ceremony in Windhoek on 25 May, the region's chairman Vetumbuavi Veii appealed on Monday.
Decorated South African track athlete Semenya is shortlisted in two categories, the sportswoman and sportsperson of the year prizes, while her compatriot and swimmer Le Clos - an Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games champion - is in for the best male competitor award.
Botswana's 400m sprinter Isaac Makwala is another leading light nominated for the sportsman of the year award.
Veii believes the trio's profiles and presence will boost interest in the fledgling initiative.
"We expect all nominees to come to Namibia and attend Rasa in person to collect their accolades. We're talking about commercialising our product, but if we award them [athletes] and they are not here to receive the award, it is really taking away the prominence of the event," Veii said during the announcement of the finalists.
"The broadcasting people and other investors want to see these people. I beg our member nations that please, let us try to bring our nominees to Rasa," he pleaded.
Only two Namibians are in for prizes. They are sportsman of the year with disability nominee Ananias Shikongo, while Namibian Sun's Limba Mupetami is on the journalist of the year shortlist.
Commonwealth champions Helalia Johannes and Jonas Junias Jonas did not make the final cut.
Whether Semenya, who recently lost her case challenging new rules forcing female athletes to regulate their testosterone levels is available, is uncertain.
Athletics South Africa (ASA) yesterday said it would appeal against the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that female athletes with elevated testosterone must take suppressive treatment if they wish to compete as women in certain International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)-sanctioned disciplines.
"This event was endorsed by our council of ministers as a premier platform for recognising excellence in sports. And, as a region, we are building Rasa into a premier event in line with a commercial strategy," Veii explained.
"We cannot just keep relying on subsidies from member states, we need to commercialise our products in order to realise our objectives," he continued.
The upcoming ceremony is the first to be staged outside South Africa, where the previous three editions took place.
The event is held in May to commemorate Africa month and Africa Day.
The nominees are:
Coach of the year - Gilbert Nyamutsamba (Zimbabwe, rugby sevens), Samuel Sepeng (South Africa, athletics), Christina Mkwanda-Msinji (Malawi, netball).
Journalist of the year - Tinashe Tirivavi (Zimbawe, The Mirror), Motshidisi Mohono (South Africa), Limba Mupetami (Namibia, Namibian Sun).
Junior female sportsperson of the year - Moneyi Chingaipe (Malawi, athletics), Lorryn Ashley Bass (Zimbabwe, rowing), Manqabang Tsibela (Lesotho, athletics).
Junior male sportsman of the year - Kernnedy Luchembe (Zambia, athletics), Blessings Kamanga (Malawi, chess), Ryan Gwidzima (Zimbabwe, squash).
Sports team of the year - Athletics 4x4 national team (Botswana, athletics), Banyana Banyana (South Africa, football), National netball team (Malawi, football).
Sportsman of the year - Isaac Makwala (Botswana, athletics), Wilfred Mashaya (Zimbabwe, martial arts), Chad le Clos (South Africa, swimming).
Sportsman of the year with disability - Ndodanzi Jonathan Ntutu (South Africa, athletics), Celestino Elias Antonio (Angola, football), Ananias Shikongo (Namibia, athletics).
Sportswoman of the year - Anisha Basheel (Malawi, boxing), Caster Semenya (South Africa, athletics), Lerato Sechele (Lesotho, athletics).
Sportswoman of the year with disability - Margaret Bangajena (Zimbabwe, athletics), Monica Munga (Zambia, athletics), Anrune Liebenberg (South Africa, athletics).
Sportsperson of the year - Wilfred Mashaya (Zimbabwe, martial arts), Anisha Basheel (Malawi, boxing), Caster Semenya (South Africa, athletics).