©️ THE International Olympic Council (IOC) has released a new qualification roadmap for the Tokyo Olympic Games to be held next year giving Zimbabwean athletes renewed hope of making it to the global showpiece.
Initially, the Games were supposed to have been staged in Tokyo in July and August this year but had to be cancelled due to the global spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
The novel virus has now claimed the lives of at least 84 000 while over 1,4 million have been infected globally.
Japan has so far recorded 93 deaths while 4 257 have been infected by the virus and last month, the IOC was forced to cancel the event.
The Games have now been rescheduled to run from July 23 to August 8 next year which has opened up a new window for athletes.
The new deadline for qualifying is June 29, 2021, and entry lists are due a week later with individual international sports federations still in charge of their qualifying procedures.
Many sports allow athletes to qualify by compiling results over a series of events. The IOC urged the federations to find a balance “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” by taking into consideration performances in 2021.
“As part of the work of the ‘Here We Go’ task force currently addressing the list of questions raised by the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the IOC qualification task force has approved a series of amendments to the Tokyo 2020 qualification system principles.
“The revision has been made to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent finalisation of the new dates of … Tokyo 2020, replacing the previous version approved by the IOC Executive Board in July 2017,” the IOC said in a statement.
The IOC raised the age limit for some events due to the postponement of the Games from this year until next year.
“Athlete’s health is the guiding principle in the scheduling of any remaining Olympic qualification events. With the postponement of the Olympic Games from 2020 until 2021, the IOC has urged that any such events be confirmed only once the Covid-19 impacts can be assessed, allowing fair access and appropriate preparation for all competing athletes and teams,” the IOC stressed.
Shortly after the IOC announcement, World Athletics announced it was shutting down all qualifying procedures through November 30 with its new window for qualifying running from December 1 through June 29 next year.
The organisation made the decision because it fears competitions will resume much earlier in some parts of the world than others and that will leave some athletes with more opportunities to qualify than others.
This comes as good news for most Zimbabwe marathon runners, who were yet to seal qualification for the Olympic Games if they had taken place this year.
At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Zimbabwe was represented by Wirimai Juwawo, Pardon Ndhlovu and Cuthbert Nyasango in the men’s marathon event.
Rutendo Nyahora was the sole Zimbabwe woman to qualify for the Olympic Games marathon.
Tatenda Tsumba and Gabriel Mvumvure also qualified for the Games in the 200m and 100m sprints respectively.
Archer Gavin Sutherland and equestrian rider Camilla Kruger and Sean Nicholson in shooting also qualified for the last Olympics Games.
Current Sports minister Kirsty Coventry and Sean Gunn made the Zimbabwe swimming team in Rio while rowers Andrew Peebles and Micheen Thornycroft also took part in the Games.
The Mighty Warriors — Zimbabwe women’s football team — also made history by qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
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