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Lockdown Setback Hits Athletics, Ping-Pong Hard

Athletics' schedule has been affected by the current lockdown of the Greater Gaborone zone PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
There has been a major setback for local sport when government issued a two-week Greater Gaborone lockdown.

Last Friday the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force announced that the country has recorded 32 new cases of the pandemic. Before then, a handful sporting codes had returned to action while contact sporting codes remained inactive. On Saturday, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) communicated through a statement that it would cancel two Track and Field events that were lined up for this month.

BAA was scheduled to return to action this coming weekend with the other event set for August 22. The two events were to be part of the 2021 Olympic Games preparation as BAA makes up for lost time. Speaking to Monitor Sport, BAA vice president, Oabona Theetso said the association did not incur costs due to the lockdown as preparations were still in early stages. Despite that, their progress on the track would be deeply affected.

"We do not have financial implications; we had just started to prepare for the events. The stadium was not yet to be paid and even if we had paid, they would have been a refund. Our season had been shortened already, and we were just looking to be back on the track. We lost a lot of time; we were looking to make up for that time. But this is a now a major set back," he said.

"This was part of the preparations of the 2021 Olympics. The qualifying (games) have been postponed for now,

so were hoping to use these races to ready our athletes. Even them (athletes) have been plunged in to doubt and uncertainty so we have been heavily affected," Theetso said.

He further said the association would await a directive from the health authorities before they re-shaped their season calendar. "We intend to resume our calendar for all the events to go on as planned. We would always be ready and if the health protocols permit, we will be returning to action anytime," he said further.

On another front, the Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) season was in full swing just before the lockdown. Bu this weekend, BTTA cancelled the Road to Finale National Open.

"We use just more P5,000 to prepare for a tournament during these periods. We had already bought all the necessities, but the good part even if we postpone we can use them for later. The issue now is the livelihood of our players. We have players who solely rely on prize money for a living. When there are no tournaments, they do not have a source of income, so you could imagine their state of living, more so that table tennis does not benefit from the government relief fund," BTTA president, Kudzanani Motswagole said.

The weekend's tournament winner was to pocket P2,000 and on average a first prize winner makes just P4,000 per month on BTTA tournaments. 




Flogging a dead horse

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