National beach volleyball team coach Sammy Mulinge is optimistic Kenya can still participate in the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers after world governing body FIVB extended the qualification period on Wednesday.
The new Olympic Ranking qualification deadline has been extended to June 13, 2021 (mirroring the previous deadline of June 14, 2020), and the Olympic Ranking list will be published a day later on June 14, 2021.
Kenya men and women's teams failed to honour the second round qualifiers that were held in Gambia and Nigeria respectively in March after the government banned athletes from traveling for international events due to coronavirus outbreak.
The development saw the quartet of Brackcides Agala, Gaudencia Makokha, captain Phoscah Kasisi and Yvonne Wavinya miss out on the qualifiers held in Abuja, Nigeria with the hosts and Zambia being the only participants. Kenya, Togo and Democratic Republic of Congo skipped the event.
The men's team comprising Ibrahim Odouri, James Mwaniki, Enock Mogeni and Brian Melly also failed to travel to Gambia. South Sudan and Gambia qualified for the third round having been the only nations that honoured the event. Kenya, Mauritius, and Botswana missed out.
Mulinge says Confederation of African Volleyball (CAVB) should readmit countries that missed the second round back to the qualification tournament in the spirit of fair play.
"We want a level playing ground. It's not that the teams failed to compete in the events as a matter of choice but due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore we pray that they will reconsider our plea," said Mulinge.
"At the end of the day, we want Africa to have a good representative at the Olympics and for that to happen there must be a proper competition. I'm in constant communication with the players and they are eagerly waiting for the feedback from CAVB. Once we receive a positive reply we will hit the road running," he added.
Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) last month wrote to CAVB requesting for cancellation of results of the second phase qualifiers since most nations didn't compete due to coronavirus.
Reached for comment, KVF chairman Waithaka Kioni said they are still awaiting feedback from CAVB.