Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s message of good luck to Team SA heading for Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo

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15 Jul 2021

It is with a great sense of pride that I take this opportunity to wish Team South Africa well on your participation at the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. The competition of the XXXII Olympiad is taking place in Japan later this month.

Appreciative that the Games will take place under difficult circumstances, we also extend our good wishes to the hosts. We are cognizant that there were obligations to accommodate both usually tough host requirements as well as challenging and unpredictable pandemic-inspired health conditions.

Justifiably, South African teams participating at the Olympic and Paralympic Games are quizzed in relation to both team size and composition. This remains necessary as long as realization of representative teams along gender and population demographics remains intangible.

Interactions with recognized National Federations regarding transformation scorecards proves that the goal of attaining inclusivity remains as elusive this time around, as ever before. This situation appears to persist despite efforts to introduce policies and other measures that seek to simultaneously encourage commitment to transformation. An approach which includes penalizing predominant laissez faire attitudes displayed by sports leadership.

Perhaps lessons learnt from the current Social Justice and Nation-building hearings, initiated by Cricket SA, will help with formulation of sustainable solutions to transform sport.

That said, we appreciate and salute individual athletes and teams for efforts they invested to meet the qualification criteria set for participation in this major sports events. It is encouraging to see the times, distances and heights our athletes are able to reach. Some have done so with very limited resources at their disposal. We also note that many are often compelled to be based outside the country to be more competitive.

All these talks to accomplishments worthy of celebration.

We also acknowledge that amongst those that could not qualify are champions like Caster Semenya who had to contend with unjust obstacles that are not of their making.

Despite challenges peculiar to participating in the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, in addition to the usual resource constraints, South Africa still has high expectations of Team SA and we wish them well on this journey.

Extreme care should also be exercised to keep our participants safe from the clutches of the deadly COVID-19 virus. We are glad to note that amongst safety measures administered is priority vaccination of the South African teams participating at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. In addition, I also appeal to our teams to follow the guidelines set down by the hosts for increased safety.

On behalf of the Government and all South Africans, I wish the South African contingent much success at the Games as well as a safe return back home.

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