CAPE TOWN - The good news for potential South African athletes is that Sascoc has raised the funds to send both the Olympic and Paralympic teams to Tokyo. But it will not be “business as usual” in the Japanese capital, due to Covid-19 protocols.
Sascoc president Barry Hendricks announced during the 100-day countdown media conference in Johannesburg yesterday that the governing body will cover all costs for Team SA, after recent reports that some sporting codes may have to raise some of their own funds to compete in Tokyo.
In unveiling shoe brand Veldskoen as a new sponsor, Hendricks said a “new sentiment” had developed among sponsors and the business community to support Team South Africa.
“And just yesterday, we sat with another sponsor, which we will announce in the next two weeks as well,” Hendricks said.
“It’s also a proud moment for me to say that Sascoc has secured funding to send the team over … we are looking for more sponsors and partners, as that will make the trip much better.
“But we can safely say that we are garnering that support, and we can say with confidence that we will be able to send Team South Africa to both events (Olympics and Paralympics) without a problem.”
Team SA chef de mission Patience Shikwambana added that the first batch of team members would leave Mzansi on July 13, with an advance team of officials flying out on July 10.
She said that South Africa were expected to enter teams into 23 out of the 33 sporting codes at the Tokyo Olympics, and that one of the challenges would be to secure ideal flights, due to the distance to Japan.
The hope is that none of the travel journeys would be more than 24 hours.
“Our team has to leave at least seven days before the start of their competition, so the travelling will be staggered.
“We will have about eight groups travelling as per when their competition starts,” Shikwambana said.
However, Team SA’s chief medical officer Dr Phatho Zondi brought a bit of realism to the jovial atmosphere as she pointed out the measures in place to deal with Covid-19.
While it won’t be compulsory for Team SA members to have been vaccinated, Zondi said that Sascoc were engaging with government about the matter, but are in support of health professionals and other vulnerable groups receiving vaccines first.
Athletes and officials would have to undergo a Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure from South Africa, and another one upon arrival in Tokyo.
They will only be able to use official transport, and must avoid crowded places and handshakes.
Information will have to be entered into a health monitoring app every day, where movements and contacts will be monitored.
Athletes will also have to leave the Olympic Village within 48 hours of their competition ending, so they won’t be able to cheer their teammates on for the rest of the Olympics.
And talking about cheering … no singing and shouting will be allowed during the duration of the Games, only clapping.
Meanwhile, SA Rugby announced yesterday that the Blitzboks Sevens squad will have a pre-Olympics training camp in the same city, Kagoshima, as the Springboks enjoyed ahead of their 2019 Rugby World Cup triumph.