Five more sport codes – Karate, Softball/Baseball, Climbing, Surfing and Skateboarding – will be added to feature in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after their request was approved by the Olympics board of directors in Brazil three days before the official opening the Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Wednesday.
Baseball and softball featured between 1992 and 2008, but made a joint bid to be readmitted back into the Olympics years ago after a lapse. None of the other mentioned sport codes have been played at the event, apart from surfing and lifesaving that were demonstration events at the Paris Games.
Botswana Softball Association (BSA) spokesperson Kelebogile Seitei says they are delighted to have been reinstated into the world’s biggest sporting event after so many years of waiting. Local players will now look forward for something to compete for.
“We are thrilled by the decision and we are looking forward to seeing softball at the Olympics as our players will have something big to play for apart from the local league and tournaments that do not even gauge their competitiveness,” she said.
However, Seitei said there was still a lot to be done in terms of competition structures across Africa that would help in improving players’ standards ahead of international meets.
“The main challenge that we are facing in Africa is that we do not have any competitions structures yet; we do not even have any SADC cup or competition that we get to play in against our neighbours so that we could gauge our strength. We need to put these structures in place before we can even think of competing at the Olympics. Botswana is considered as one of the continent’s powerhouses in softball but there is no use for us to cherish such credit while we are not even sure that we deserve it because we have not tested ourselves against other countries,” she added.
The Botswana Under-19 national team recently triumphed over South Africa at the World Junior Championships that was held in the United States Of America (USA), the outcome of which they deem as a reflection of talent and potential in the country.
BSA will host the Zone 6 Softball tournament later this month that will encompass all softball leaders in Africa to map a way forward on how to improve the regional competition in the continent.
Meanwhile, it is all systems go at Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) as they have also welcomed the adoption of their code with open arms and said they were ready to hit the ground.
BOKA Vice President technical Shi-han Bakwadi said it was important to start from the drawing boards citing the revival of grassroots structures and also the development of infrastructure in the country.
“For us to be able to compete at the Olympics we have to start here at home by improving our standards of tournaments and also to play more at international level,” he said.