The Botswana National Olympic Committee chief executive officer (BNOC CEO), Tuelo Serufho, has said they are not only cautious but are assessing the risk of the corona virus as they prepare for the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
The Corona virus which was first detected in China has claimed about 170 lives with over 8000 reported cases. Other countries which have detected the virus but with no reported deaths include Japan, Korea, Thailand, Australia, The United Kingdom and the United States.
The World Health Organisation on Friday declared the outbreak a global emergency threat.
“We are closely monitoring the spread of the virus across the world and assess to see if there is real risk so that we can re adjust the team preparations. The level of risk will determine whether we go to our planed destination or not” explained Serufho.
He said the BNOC is taking all precautionary measures to make sure their athletes and officials avoid contacting the deadly virus. He said the outbreak of the various has not impacted on their training schedule.
Despite the corona virus, Serufho said they are facing the financial challenges, “the money we have is not enough for us to execute our Olympic plan fully. We are appealing to private sector to come on board to inject money in the team so that their training schedule is not compromised” appealed Serufho.
He appealed to the business community to also buy fund raising gala dinner tickets to support the local stars.
Team Botswana is busy training in various countries in Europe and South America despite tight budget. Boxing is currently in Paris, France where they are in rigorous training camp. The Paris camp is expected to leave France on the 2nd and head to Budapest, Hungary from the 2nd – 7th February.
They will also take part in an international tournament known as Bocskai Istavan Memorial International Boxing Tournament. The male team comprises of Rajab Otukile Mahommed (MAFIKA), George Molwantwa (BMC), Treasure Moremi (DTCB), Mmusi Tswiige (PRISONS), Tefo Maitewa (MOLEPS), Kobamelo Molatlhegi (UB), Kabo Seitshiro (EMG) and Tshephang Kapinga (UB).
The Ladies team is made up of Lethabo Modukanele (UB), Keamogetse Kenosi (DTCB) and Aratwa Kasemang (UB). The Boxing team is under the tutelage of coaches Lechedzani Luza and Choga Ntoti. They will then head to Dakar, Senegal for the Africa Olympic Qualifier tournament.
Karate is also in Paris undergoing training and will head to Morocco for the qualification event. Weightlifting, Judo, Taekwondo and swimming are also in training camps abroad.
Serufho explained that from the preparation they will assess the performances and cut those who did not qualify and those that prospects of qualifying will be slim or dim.
The BNOC is expected to send between 17 and 20 athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. They country is aiming to win at least 2 medals.
Still with Olympics, Serufho was delighted that the athletes from Olympic Athletics team who carried injuries last year have been cleared fit for training.
“Most of the top athletes if not all of them, who were carrying injuries have been cleared fit to train.” We will be subjecting them to more fitness test and we will send them to specialised test both in Botswana and in neighboring South Africa.
The four top athletes who reported to training from injuries are Karabo Sibanda, Isaac Makwala, Christine Botlogetswe and Baboloki Thebe.
Serufho is optimistic that the athletes will recover fully by the time the competition starts. BNOC will not compromise anything in rehabilitating any injured team member because they want to optimize the chances of winning the targeted number of medals.
He explained that the three, Nigel Amos, Christine Botlogetswe and Gadifele Moroko have since qualified for the 2020 Olympics.