LAHORE: The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) is confident that the Tokyo Olympics will be held as per schedule in July-August in Japan and it is fully engaged with the different organising committees of the games to field a small contingent of around 20 players and officials.
Talking to Dawn, secretary POA Khalid Mahmood said that the POA had completed the accreditation process of the players and officials who have either qualified for the Olympics or have the chances to qualify for it by the end of June.
Khalid said some wrestlers including Bilal and karate player Saadi Abbas still have to compete in the Olympics qualifying round but the POA have also got their accreditation because the last date to get it was April 9. He said the IOC had also asked every member country to appoint a Covid-19 coordinator and the POA has appointed Dr. Asad Abbas for it.
“Brig. Zaheer Akhtar, vice president of the POA has been appointed as Chef de Mission of the Pakistan contingent,” informed Khalid.
He said all the officials of the contingent, being in the age bracket of above 40, have been vaccinated while the players’ vaccination is in progress.
Khalid said while there was a perception that due to Covid-19 cases in the USA and most of the countries of Europe and India, the fate of the Olympics is hanging in the balance, the IOC is working with full force and with all its resources to hold Tokyo Games in July this year.
Khalid further said that almost 95 per cent of athletes of India, who have qualified for the Games, are getting training in different countries due to the current precarious Covid-19 situation in India. “The entry of Pakistani players could be increased in case some qualified players from other countries not travel to Japan due to positive Covid-19 cases,” he said.
Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem (javelin throw), Equestrian Usman Khan, shooters Gulfam Joseph and Khalil Akhtar have already qualified for the Olympics. Pakistan will also place two athletes and swimmers, each on wild card for the Tokyo Games.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2021