South Africa’s Olympic governing body, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) together with various stakeholders in the sporting industry, celebrated six months to go before Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as the games gather momentum.
A press briefing at Olympic House, Johannesburg on Friday, 24 January, outlined SASCOC’s milestones in terms of their preparation to the world’s biggest multi-coded sporting event, Olympic Games. “Some of our athletes, who are the main point of focus were in attendance and these included: Tatjana Schoenmaker our well decorated and multi medallist swimmer, Caitlin Roosenkrantz and Naveen Daries both from Artistic Gymnastics, Siviwe Soyizwapi, recently named Rugby sevens player of the year and Kurt-Lee Arendse who is also part of the Rugby sevens squad, Morgan Moss from Karate and Brandon Valjalo our top skater. Athletes’ coaches and National Federations’ leadership were also in attendance.”
South Africa will be sending its largest delegation of athletes since Beijing 2008. At the Annual General Meeting held on 23 November 2019 the SASCOC Olympic and Paralympic National Federations voted to have the selection criteria relaxed to allow for Continental slots to be taken into consideration in team selection as allocated and approved by their respective International Federations.
The estimated size of Team South Africa for this year’s Olympics is 228 athletes across 25 sporting codes. As of today approximately 101 athletes have qualified across nine sporting codes. Preparations for the Olympic Games are at an advanced stage. The High Performance Department have been engaging with the respective National Federations regarding the possibility of attending Pre-Games Training Camps in Japan.
Athletics will be using Machida City which is one and a half hours drive from Tokyo. Rugby 7’s will be based in Kagoshima City before coming to the Olympic Village. There are still opportunities for SASCOC to finalise more venues for other potential sports codes as and when they qualify. Swimming have opted not to use pre-games training camps and would rather go straight into the village when it opens.
Wheelchair Tennis and Para Swimming have taken up the offer of attending a pre-games training camp in Iizuka City which is in Fukuoka Prefecture. Moving to the OPEX and Special Support programmes, the 2020 programme will start on 1 February 2020 and will run until Olympic Games for the Olympic Sporting codes and 31 August 2020 for the Paralympic Sporting Codes. All National Federations received the call for them to nominate athletes who meet the OPEX and Special Support Criteria.
The SASCOC Acting President commented, “The excitement for Tokyo 2020 is starting to build up and we can confidently say we are preparing and getting ready and our athletes should rest assured that they are going to Olympics in July. Team SA will make us proud because you have been preparing well.”
The Acting CEO, Ravi Govender advised that SASCOC is confident that based on the good relationship we currently have with stakeholders, we will be able to fund sending Team SA to Tokyo. The opening ceremony of the Games will take place on 24 July 2020, featuring South Africa’s and the globe’s finest athletes and will run for just over two weeks before ending on 9 August.
In the next few months, athletes are gearing up their final training preparations as the various disciplines attempt to make the qualifying standards. The first team announcement will be made towards end of April 2020.