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Athletics' Olympic qualifiers suspended until December

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Athletics' Olympic qualifiers suspended until December
World Athletics (WA) has suspended the athletics qualification period for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games until December 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a statement from WA, the decision was taken after consultation with its athletes’ commission, area presidents and council.

“Qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is suspended effective from April 6 until November 30, 2020 included,” WA stated. 

Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) chief executive officer, Tuelo Serufho said changes have been made to qualifications. He said a new qualification system and timelines are being defined for the remaining 43% of the places. 

“We hope to know that by end of the month,” he said. 

Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) vice president-technical, Oabona Theetso said the suspension of the qualifiers to December was a blessing in disguise. He said it means the athletes would now have an opportunity to start afresh.

“Our athletes have been struggling to qualify, but now they have been given a chance to work hard and come back fresh. Of course there could be some changes in the team, but that is up to the coach. As

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the board, we do not interfere when selection is done,” he said.

He said there is fear, particularly for ageing athletes like Isaac Makwala that time is not on their side. But Theetso said Makwala was the backbone of the relay team even if he does not qualify for an individual event.

“We have many athletes who are above 35 years, but very active and we can expect the same thing from Makwala,” Theetso said.

The end of the qualifications periods is May 31, 2021 (for 50km race walk and marathon) and June 29, 2021 for all events. Qualification starting dates for entry standards and world rankings remain unchanged with many athletes already qualified by meeting the entry standards during 2019.

Meanwhile, in regard to allowances, Serufho said Tokyo 2020 scholarship holders would continue to get their regular allowances. He added that there are no allowances for other athletes after the national team camp was disbanded last week.



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