The Barbados flag is 365 days away from being paraded at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and a ceremony was held today to celebrate the one-year countdown at the Barbados Olympic Association [BOA] office in Wildey, St. Michael.
It was a joint occasion held during the countdown as IGT Global Services Limited and BOA also continued their partnership with the launch of Going for Gold IST instant scratch initiative to raise funds for Barbadian athletes in their quest for Olympic glory.
Chef de Mission to the July 24th to August 9th 32nd Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, Cameron Burke, said the BOA was making every effort to send the best team possible. He spoke in the presence of Japan’s first resident ambassador to Barbados, Teruhiko Shinada, and IGT Global Service accounts development manager, Patrick Clunis.
“For Rio 2016 we fielded what at the time was a highly competitive team in track and field, shooting, tennis, triathlon and swimming. Sadly, the squad experienced some heartache, bad luck with injuries and some other complications, so we look to Tokyo 2020 with renewed enthusiasm. Our team would be competing in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and the outcome there should give us a good insight into what we can expect in Tokyo. Until then I say that we are making every effort to ensure that our best Olympic team ever participates in Tokyo generating indelible memories not only for all Barbadians but for our hosts in Tokyo who are striving to produce the best Olympic Games,” Burke said.
There was a flag-raising ceremony, and a countdown clock positioned in front of the BOA’s building which will count down the final day until the grand occasion next year.
With the medals for the Tokyo 2020 Games unveiled yesterday, made from metal extracted from recyclable consumer electronics, Barbadian athletes will compete against the world’s best participating in 33 sporting disciplines and 339 events.
In terms of overall numbers of Barbadian athletes that would be attending the Tokyo 2020 Games and the budget to cover all expenses, Burke said he was unsure because planning was still at a preliminary stage.
“Already we have submitted preliminary numbers, and we are looking at a possible seven disciplines that might make the games. We are excited about the surfing prospects with Chelsea Tuach… The usual sports track and field, aquatics, shooting and possibly taekwondo, but all of this is dependent on what happens further on during the year. Numbers right now are about twenty-three people, a preliminary base that we have submitted to Tokyo 2020. I was there in March, and already most of the facilities are ready for use, and some test events were going on quite recently, and the reports coming back is that we would certainly have the best games ever.
“As you know, Tokyo is still far away, so if I am to estimate looking at what happened before when we went to Beijing is just over a million Barbados dollars. So, I suspect we will be in that watermark again,” Burke said.
Assistant Secretary-General of the BOA Burke revealed that the association continues to fund Barbados’ athletes and has made a few adjustments to assist other athletes with potential, financially.
“We have continued our investment in the athletes, and from the beginning of the year, we at the Olympic committee decided that we will change the way we fund our athletes so that we could give more to the athletes. Before we were funding seventy-one athletes and this year we have trimmed that tremendously to give those athletes who have the potential to get to the games a better financial footing,” Burke said.
Japan’s ambassador Teruhiko Shinada said this was the second Summer Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo with the first held 55 years ago in 1964. He noted that the Bajan team would be welcomed and hosted in Nanyo City during the games.
“We estimate that more than twelve thousand athletes, coaches and other delegates from 207 countries and regions will participate in Tokyo 2020, and I am sure that all of them – including, of course, the team from Barbados – will be more welcomed in Tokyo and will fully enjoy our warm Japanese hospitality,” Shinada said.
Clunis said the Going for Gold initiative would be used as a driving force to provide additional funds for Barbados at the upcoming games. Additionally, he said, it was another way for IGT Global and BOA to strengthen their ongoing partnership.
“This game is specially designed as a vehicle to have a dedicated pool of funds that goes up and above our usual commitment to the Barbados Olympic Association. So, all the proceeds from this game are pretty much geared towards the Olympic association. So, it is separate from the ongoing contributions that we make.
“Specifically, to this game, we intend to make a handover to the BOA in April of next year. So, we have a raft of events that will help to ensure there is sufficient excitement nationwide, working very closely with the BOA to have the games promoted and giving assistance to our retailers across the island,” Clunis said.