JOA secures improved pre-Olympic deal
Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) President Christopher Samuda has highlighted that qualified Jamaican athletes and Para-lympians from every sporting discipline will benefit from a recently signed memorandum of understanding with the Tottori Prefecture of Japan ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
Tottori hosted Jamaican athletes as they prepared for the 2007 and 2015 IAAF World Championships, which took place in Osaka and Beijing respectively. However, only track and field athletes were accommodated on both occasions, and according to Samuda, the association wanted to improve on the previous agreement with the Asian country.
"Instinctively, you always want to improve what you had. Therefore, we wouldn't be replicating the agreements, and that means we would need one or two considerations on the table, so that is how the Paralympians and other sporting disciplines came in," he said.
"This is historic," he continued. "In the past, the camp was only for track and field, but this time any discipline that qualifies for the 2020 Olympics will have the benefit of the camp. We also struck a deal to accommodate the Paralympians, so after the Olympic Games, the Paralympians will move in for their games under similar arrangements. This was not the case in the past."
Although there is a confi-dentiality clause, which prevents the association from disclosing information such as the cost of the venture, Samuda revealed he personally inspected the venue and gave it full marks.
"I inspected the venue, and I am very pleased; it's so comfortable. The area is generally quiet, which is a focal point, because we don't want the athletes to be distracted.
"We have the added advantage of being to the territory before, the people know us well, they really embraced us, and we will conduct training sessions (for natives), particularly in track and field," he noted.
However, Samuda also does not think Jamaica's close relationship with the Tottori people will affect their camping or training. On the contrary, he thinks it will help like in the past.
"Athletes are on schedule at competitions, and we will not allow extracurricular activities to interfere with their training and have them lose focus. They will interface with the people of Tottori, but I don't believe, on past experience, that it will inhibit their performance," Samuda said.
Tottori is located in Western Japan, just over an hour south of Tokyo by air. On their two previous stays in Tottori, Jamaican athletes trained at the Fuse Sports Park, which boasts top-class indoor and outdoor training, medical, and social facilities.