Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) spent over P5 million on preparing local athletes for the Olympics before the damnable COVID-19 pandemic happened, Gazette Sport has established.
Due to the stain of the pandemic, BNOC halted its preparations for the Olympics on March 31, just two days just before the country began with its lockdown which was meant to curb the spread of the virus. Weeks after that, the International Olympic Committee also took a decision to postpone the Olympics that were scheduled to take place in Tokyo, Japan from the 24th of July to August 9.
They will now take place from the 23rd of July to the 8th of August 2021 still in Tokyo.
Just like many other National Olympic Committees around the world, the BNOC was busy gearing up for the world summer games before the COVID-19 happened ultimately spending over P5 million on preparations. The money was used on readying athletes from sporting codes like athletics, taekwondo, swimming, boxing, weightlifting, judo and karate.
According to BNOC Communication and Marketing Manager Lame Ramokate, the money was spent on covering team camps (accommodations), competitions, travel expenses, athletes’ allowances and medical costs among other things.
Even so, BNOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho told this publication that the figure they spent cannot be regarded as money down the drain. “Because with that money we have so far managed to qualify five athletes,” Serufho said. “So we cannot say we have lost; I mean we have put athletes like Galefele Moroko in a good position to run a lot of diamond league meets when everything returns to normal.”
He said the postponement of the Olympics is a blessing in disguise to BNOC as it will by extension prepare athletes for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, 2022 World Athletics Championships and 2024 Olympic Games. “So this is a very good investment for us, it is not money down the drain,” he said.
So far, only five athletes in Nijel Amos (men’s 800m) and three female 400m athletes, Christine Botlogetswe , Moroko as well as Amantle Montsho, have qualified for the Olympics. Keamogetse Kenosi has also qualified for the games being the first ever local female boxer to do so. The country is yet to qualify top athletes like Naomi Ruele, Karabo Sibanda and Ofentse Bakwadi just to mention a few.