The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) chief executive officer, Wedu Motswetla has urged the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) to put aside their differences with top athlete Baboloki Thebe.
BAA and the athlete are at loggerheads after Thebe flew to Ivory Coast where he is training, but the mother body said he had not been granted permission. However, reports are that BAA did not attend to his request despite a letter being submitted.
BAA informed BNOC the athlete had left without permission. But Motswetla told Mmegi Sport that whatever differences the BAA has with Thebe, they must be put aside. “Thebe is a professional athlete and he is not restricted to training in Botswana. He has the right to train anywhere he wants, especially that it is an Olympics year. He should not be oppressed. No matter what happens, he should not be at a disadvantage,” she said.
When asked if they are going to refund Thebe for his expenses, Motswetla said she was not in a position to comment on that matter.
Meanwhile, there has been concern from athletes who felt that they were being ripped off through the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Solidarity Scholarship.
According to a contract, which was signed by one of the athletes, a fixed monthly grant of $650 would be paid to the NOC towards the athlete’s preparation for the Olympic Games. The NOC must ensure that the athlete is informed of the planned distribution of the scholarship from the start. The scholarship started in September 2017.
The scholarship aims to assist all National Olympic Committees (NOC) for athletes’ development programmes, in particular those with the greatest needs.
The likes of Isaac Makwala, Nijel Amos, Baboloki Thebe, Karabo Sibanda, Christine Botlogetswe, Galefele Moroko, Rajab Mohammed, Gavin Mogopa, James Freeman and Naomi Ruele are beneficiaries
Motswetla said allowances that are allocated to the athletes differ.
“There are some athletes who are at an elite level like Amos and Makwala and they cannot get the same allocation as others who just joined the programme. But that does not mean we do not care about upcoming athletes, we also want to groom them. As the BNOC, it is our role to divide that allocation according to the needs of the athletes such as paying rent, coaches, medical attention and the welfare of the athlete. Then the balance is allocated to the athlete,” she said. Motswetla added that any funding from International Olympic Committee (IOC) is accounted for. “We cannot use athletes’ allowances for anything else. No matter how we want to misappropriate the funds, it is not possible.
After the funds, a financial report is submitted to IOC and it should match with the budget that is submitted,” Motswetla said.
BNOC liaison officer-sport development, Modise Mgadla said he explained to athletes many times how the fund works.
“I always tell them that they cannot be allocated the whole amount. They cannot expect their welfare to be taken care of but at the same time be allocated the whole package. Maybe they have a problem with their NSAs or just ignorance,” he said.
Mgadla said the fund accumulates over time for each individual, then that money is used to assist the athletes. “In most instances, managers pay for athletes to travel abroad, when they return, we refund them. However, it depends on the budget. We reimburse trips that have been approved,” Mgadla said.