NNOC takes stock of Rio mess
The Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) says the country’s participation at the Rio Olympics was marred by various misfortunes that started two days after the Namibian team’s arrival at the games.
The NNOC said this week that the misfortunes were a major contributor to Namibia’s dismal performance at the global sporting event.
NNOC Vice President Jesse Schickerling said during a press conference on Thursday that while the team was supposed to be focusing their energy and time on technical meetings and training, they were confronted by other distracting issues.
He said these challenges ranged from an appeal concerning the inclusion of one athlete, the arrest of another, various medical challenges, poor grant remuneration for the athletes and lack of proper training.
Schickerling said the appeal came in the face of an agreement reached between the Ministry of Sport, Youth and national Service, Athletics Namibia and the NNOC, concerning the non-inclusion of Tjipee Hengura.
He said the direct result of this appeal was that they had to leave everything, and valuable time, which could have been expended on preparations for the games, was lost.
“Secondly, on 7 August the accusation against Olympic flag-bearer, Jonas Junius was made, and until the early hours of 11 August, our time was expended on ensuring his release.
“Contrary to what was reported in the press, Jonas was released at 04:00 on 11 August, from which date he has been and remains under the custody and control of the Military Attaché of Namibia, and in whose custody and control he will remain until the finalisation of the case.
“On 15 August, Jonas was summoned to appear before the International Olympics Committee Ethics Commission for a statement concerning the events that led to his arrest, which was postponed since Jonas exercised his right to remain silent,” he said.
Schickerling also quoted the Namibia Sports Act and the Olympic Charter, which have primary obligations for the development of athletes in the national federations, which were supposed to identify athletes and expose them to continuous international competitions.
He noted that Namibia did not have proper training facilities, both in the form of a national sports science institute and sports facilities, while the lack of funding was a direct result of an imbalance in budget allocations for the Namibia Defence Force and police, which far exceeded the budget allocation for national sports bodies, as well as umbrella bodies.
“The direct result is that athletes in Namibia have to earn a living by working, whilst at the same time they were expected to concentrate on their discipline on a part-time basis only.
“Internationally, the norm is that medals are budgeted, and on this basis athletes are identified at very early stages, and put on an eight-year preparation programme, with an investment of between US$1 million and US$1,5 million during this period, to enable them to qualify as medal contenders across the globe, as full-time sportsmen and women.”
Currently Namibian athletes receive preparation grants from the NNOC of N$100,000 per athlete, part of which was received from the sports ministry, and the rest through Olympic Solidarity. This was all that local athletes received, compared to the international norm.
Schickerling highlighted that some athletes suffered medical challenges during the Olympics, such as Beata Naigambo, while Alina Armas and Helalia Johannes blistered their feet, due to the marathon starting late, yet they beat all their Southern African counterparts.
He said Michelle Vorster and Vera Adrian, despite having faced various challenges related to the absence of proper facilities in the country, clearly had respectable performances.
“So given the lack of proper facilities, the clear lack of adequate funding and the absence of continuity in the participation in the past four years, how do you think these athletes performed?”