JOA recommits to rescheduled Olympic qualifiers
Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) President Christopher Samuda has reiterated the federation’s commitment to supporting athletes in their quest of qualifying for this year’s Tokyo Olympics ahead of their respective rescheduled qualifiers.
The coronavirus pandemic resulted in the postponement of the Games last March as well as several Olympic-qualifying tournaments from various disciplines, which Jamaican athletes were in contention for in 2020. The Games were rescheduled to this July, as well as their qualifying events, which include diving, rowing and surfing.
Samuda said that the JOA would honour any commitments for athletes still in the hunt to qualify for the Games and would lend any support necessary to the respective sporting federations.
“We have made a commitment late last year and I made the disclosure that we will be fulfilling any commitment that we have made in relation to ensuring that athletes are given the opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games,” Samuda told The Gleaner.
LEVEL OF UNCERTAINTY
While tentative dates have been set for the qualifying events, there is still a level of uncertainty regarding the chances of hosting the Games. Tokyo is currently under a state of emergency until February, in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
However, Samuda says that he is optimistic of the Japanese authorities’ ability to contain the virus and says that they are engaging with the athletes who are preparing to compete this year.
“Once there is in fact the prospect of qualifying, then we will support. We are engaging those disciplines that have a reasonable prospect of qualifying for the Olympic Games, and we will stick with them, and we will give them support,” Samuda said.
Jamaica Rowing Federation official Robert Scott says that the reinforcement of the JOA’s commitment is welcomed, considering that they are regarded as a minor sport nationally.
“Sometimes you feel like you are doing it alone, but the JOA, from time to time, has reached out to us, asked if there is any support that we need. Whenever we make a request to them, they have always been extremely supportive and they are very [quick] in their support,” Scott said.
Shahiede Patterson will represent Jamaica in their rescheduled qualifying event this March in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Rowing is among the many sports this year that are aiming for Jamaican qualification for the Olympics for the first time. Other disciplines that are vying for similar feats include skateboarding and surfing, which will make their Olympic debuts this year.