Zimbabwe: Athletes Review Plans for Olympics

27 March 2020

NATIONAL sport associations and athletes have to review their plans and preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after they were rescheduled to 2021 because of coronavirus pandemic.

The Games were set for July 24 to August 9 but have since been postponed due to growing cases of the virus worldwid.

National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president, Tendai Tagara, welcomed the decision.

"Olympics is not stadiums, Games Village and all financial inputs, it is the athletes and human resources that make it happen," he said.

"That's the best decision which I knew was coming."

Athletics is one of the sport codes expected to provide a number of athletes for the Games although they are yet to have an athlete who has qualified.

They had been left in a difficult situation following the cancellation and postponement of most of their targeted qualifying competitions.

Tagara said they stand guided by the World Athletics on the way forward and they have to also take into account the World Championships lined up for next year.

"World Athletics will sit and go back to the drawing board to plan for the future and we will be guided accordingly. All athletes at all levels will try to keep in shape, they will continue training individually . . . The chances are that there will be overlapping of the qualifying period to accommodate both as has been the norm.

"It's not Olympics only to be considered, remember we have our premier World Championships in the USA next year, which is every athlete's dream to represent his or her country," Tagara said.

Coach David Tinago, who has been working with sprinters Ngoni Makusha, Tatenda Tsumba, Itai Vambe, Dickson Kamungeremu and Dickson Kapandura, said for now they have to stay safe.

"It's really sad for everyone, for them (Games) being postponed. But it was beyond our control. We just pray everything will be fine and we can properly resume our training.

"This has really affected our training programmes as we don't even know the actual calendar to follow in our training plan. So right now the only thing we are doing is to try to stay in shape and deal with any outcome which comes our way and the health of everyone first.

"The motivation which I have been giving my athletes is to stay positive and be ready for any outcomes and to stay safe and active, also having given them some workouts to do at home and they report on the progress every day. It's been a tough few months but we hope everything goes into place," said Tinago.

Another hopeful for the Games is judo and United Kingdom-based Christi-Rose Pretorius has been working her way to earn qualifying points.

JAZ president, Smart Deke said they look forward to when competition resumes for qualification.

"The postponement is disappointing but it is a necessary move to all of the world athletes as this virus is still growing. So we are happy with the postponement until the situation gets to normal.

"We are glad she is in good health with no infection. We are still working hard as planned especially for the African Championship qualifying event which we know Christi will get good points as most of the world champions athletes will not come to Africa."

"We are so happy now with the assistance from ZOC (the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee) towards our qualifying events. It was not an easy thing to attend all of them to get points we need for qualifying," said Deke.

Most local athletes are still attempting qualification for the Games and the postponement gives them time to revisit their qualification plans and better prepared when the situation improves and gets back to normal.

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