AS the year begins and the countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games continues, Team Zimbabwe chef de mission Thabani Gonye says they remain optimistic a number of local athletes can still push for qualification.
Only rowing has so far qualified for a slot in the men’s single scull.
The rest of the targeted sport codes are still seeking qualification. These include athletics, golf, judo, rugby, boxing and swimming and most of the athletes from these sport codes have been working towards ensuring they are ready for competition in their respective bases.
Locally-based athletes will probably resort to individual training following the suspension of sporting activity in the country.
Gonye, who is also the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee’s vice president, said they will do all they can to support the athletes so that they qualify for the Games.
They have put in place a budget of between US$160 000 to US$170 000 to help athletes seeking qualification with their preparations and qualifying events.
“So for us as ZOC we say that anybody who still has an opportunity to qualify they will still remain active in terms of our support to support them. So I would say those are the main federations we still believe that they have an opportunity to qualify.
“We have the scholarship athletes that we have got and we have also a budget which has also been submitted to the Government.
“The Government is aware of our plans for 2021 in terms of our financial requirements and that also goes to our corporate partners that we are looking into working with for the preparations.
“We have already unveiled a budget which obviously would have that aspect of funding that usually comes from our usual partners the Olympic Solidarity (by the) IOC (International Olympic Committee).
“And then obviously we are looking over and above that, some other support that we require I think it’s in the region US$160 000, US$170 000 over and above what we normally require for those athletes to qualify. So yes we are certainly looking at other partners to support us because preparations require a lot.
“So in terms of quantum, we will be obviously looking over and beyond the normal support of the scholarship support so that any event that they want to go and qualify they will be supported accordingly.
“And also there is some of the campings and trainings that they would want to be supported on, we will support that,” Gonye said.
The chef de mission, ZOC and the national associations that have athletes vying for qualification are set to meet early this month for their usual meetings for updates.
Their last meeting was in November.
“Obviously we will continue to have meetings with national federations that we still believe are having a chance to qualify.
“And we will obviously be resuming our meeting with the sport federations that are preparing early in January so that we can share some notes on some of the plans we want to have in place and the events that they would want to take part in.
“For all the athletes who are preparing stay safe and remember all the protocols that we have been learning over 2020 and that we have been able to live with,” said Gonye.