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BNOC revises Olympic targets

MQONDISI DUBE
Top athlete, Isaac Makwala
Lack of adequate funding had ensured preparations for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo were sputtering, but a change of pace from the government and the private sector, has injected some new lease of life.

The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has decried lack of funding, which had meant the preparations moved at a snail’s pace.

But the mood has changed significantly, after the private sector came on board, while the government has promised significant support in kind.

“We met with the minister (Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare) a few days ago, and the minister is keen to provide support to ensure that the we qualify as many athletes as possible, but last, that we do well in Tokyo. The minister has tasked us to come up with a turnaround strategy,” Serufho said.

He said a number of companies have committed support while the government is keen to support in other ways, not necessarily financial. He said they are working around the clock to try and fix what ‘is broken’ and put the athletes in goad stead, for both qualification and performance.

“Consequently, we can only be able to give an indication on the number of athletes and medals mid next week,”

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Serufho said.

He also said they are engaging associations to determine their current status and agree on remedial strategies.

“The possible injection of funds by both government and the private sector should have a positive effect on our efforts,” Serufho said.

He could not say if the target of four medals would be revised downwards, although with only three athletes having qualified thus far, that looks like the case.

Serufho said despite the recent optimism, they still needed more funding.

“Notwithstanding, what is being committed, we still need more private sector injection,” he said.

The games’ comprehensive budget was P40million, but the government had committed only P20million, leaving preparations faltering.

Top athlete, Isaac Makwala appeared to throw a jab at the BNOC when he criticised the pace of preparations in a Facebook post.

“Tokyo is eight months to go!!! When is Botswana going to start preparations for the Olympics (sic),” Makwala queried.

The mood has been thus far flat, after an underwhelming performance at the World Championships in Doha, where the team returned empty handed.



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