WITH the commencement of the 2020 Olympics Games yet to be decided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), para-athletes the world over are also waiting in the wings with bated breathe for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to pronounce itself on the 2020 Paralympic Games
amidst the widespread coronavirus that has halted sport globally.
The 2020 Paralympic Games, which marks the 16th edition of the global multi-sport showpiece, are planned for Tokyo, Japan, between 25 August and 6 September. Meanwhile, the 2020 Olympic Games will precede the Paralympics when they take place between 24 July and 9 August also in Tokyo.
The Olympics Games are for able-bodied athletes and are held under the auspices of the IOC, while Paralympic Games caters for athletes with physical disabilities and fall under the IPC.
Covid-19, as the coronavirus is officially known, has seen its ripple effects bring sports to its knees globally and has claimed the lives of thousands of people worldwide.
In Namibia, local para-athletes are handing in the balance and are uncertain if they will be accorded an opportunity to realise their dreams of representing their country at this year’s Paralympics, which the IPC is yet to decide if it will go ahead as planned or will be rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A horde of Namibian para-athletes was hoping secure qualification for Tokyo at various continental and international qualifying events that have since been called off globally due to the virus and whether or not the IPC will grant them another opportunity to vie for qualification remains to be seen.
Speaking to New Era Sport, secretary general of the Namibia Paralympic Committee (NPC) Michael Hamukwaya said the deadly virus has squashed the hopes of local athletes, who were hoping to make their mark the global games in Tokyo.
“We cannot compete in any qualification events at the moment because government announced the cancellation of all local sporting activities; before that announcement, we only had two spots at the upcoming Games and were hoping to qualify for athletes. We were looking forward to getting other qualification spots at the Dubai Grand Prix, scheduled for this month but has now been
cancelled and also at the South Africa Championship in Port Elizabeth, which has also been called off. We were also targeting the Paris Grand Prix scheduled for May, but that also looks unlikely. We are facing a serious challenge here,” said distressed Hamukwaya.
He added that the virus has further affected athletes from doing individual training as the facilities they use all belong to government and they have now been closed till further notice.
“This has also barred our athletes from conducting training because the facilities that we mostly use belong to government and have all been closed following the announcement to halt all sporting activities locally. It’s going to be tough, as our local athletes cannot afford to buy training equipment to keep themselves active at home during these times,” he said.
2020-03-23 11:10:11 | 14 days ago