Olympic hopefuls get second chance

Olympic hopefuls get second chance

MASERU-Lesotho athletes that missed the cut for the Olympic Games have been given a second chance to make it to the global showpiece.
The 32nd edition of the Olympics was due to be held in Tokyo, Japan in July this year but last month the International Olympic Committee (IOC) postponed the the Games until 2021 because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has spread through the world.

Last week the IOC confirmed the Tokyo Games will now take place from 23 July to 8 August in 2021 while also announcing a new qualifying deadline of 29 June 2021.

The IOC said the roughly 6,500 athletes that had already qualified for the 2020 Games will keep their spots in 2021.
In all, 57 percent of the total athlete places have been booked and approximately 5,000 qualifying spots remain open across the 33 sporting codes scheduled for the upcoming Olympics.

The ball is now in the court of the different global sporting mother bodies.
World Athletics, for its part, announced last Tuesday that qualification for the Tokyo Olympic Games would restart on December 1, subject to the global situation returning to normal.

So far, long distance runner Khoarahlane Seutloali is the only Lesotho athlete that has qualified for the Olympic Games.
Seutloali booked his spot after finishing fifth at the Cape Town Marathon last September.

The change in the qualifying deadline means other prominent local athletes such as distance runner Tšepang Sello and triple jump national record holder Lerato Sechele, who finished fourth at the Commonwealth Games last year, have another chance to join Seutloali at the Olympics.
According to Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) spokesperson Moshoeshoe Molapo, the IOC and international federations are in talks on a way forward other for sports as well.

Speaking to thepost on Tuesday, Molapo said scheduled qualifying events that were cancelled over the past month around the world because of COVID-19 will have to be rescheduled.
“Some sporting codes have a number of qualifying events and competitions that were cancelled,” Molapo said.

“The international federations and IOC are still in talks on how (qualifying) is going to happen, whether to set a new (qualifying) standards or use the ones in place,” he added.

For now the IOC has told international governing federations to consider the middle ground “between protecting those athletes who were close to qualifying based on the previous 2020 deadlines and also ensuring the best athletes at the Olympic Games” while giving leeway for 2021 performances.
Molapo said athletes would be consulted soon on the way forward.
He said world rankings may be used to decide the remainder of the Olympic competitor pool in some sporting codes.

“The athletes had prepared to attend (the qualifying events), the international federations will advise,” Molapo said. “Countries normally bid to host qualifying events and we have to know if the same countries will still host. There will be a communiqué; some qualifying events (will) use rankings.”

The Olympics are held every four years and are the pinnacle of an athlete’s career.
The news of an extension in qualifying is positive development for some athletes but restrictions resulting from the coronavirus outbreak will also affect preparations.

Other sporting disciplines may also not be as lucky. The African Olympic qualifiers for boxing and taekwondo were held in February and Lesotho’s athletes didn’t qualify.

In boxing, for example, the last chance to make it to Tokyo was due to be a final world qualifier in France in May but it is unclear when or if it will be held. 114 boxers have already booked their place at the Tokyo Games.

Tlalane Phahla

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