The International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee released a joint statement following the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to the Coronavirus outbreak that has virtually brought the world to a standstill. Parts of the statement reads: “The IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”
The South African U-23 National team has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The team coached by David Notoane secured their spot in the Olympics during the CAF U-23 Cup of Nations held in Egypt from 8 to 22 November 2019. Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt and South Africa finished in the top three positions and therefore qualified for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020.
Kaizer Chiefs players Happy Mashiane and Siyabonga Ngezana formed part of the South Africa U–23 Men’s team which was destined for Tokyo this year, but now their dreams have been put on hold by the globalpandemic.
The two players, Ngezana and Mashiane responded to the rescheduling of the games, both appreciating that life is far more important than the dream of playing in the Olympics.
“Covid-19 is a serious concern to the world,” says Mashiane. “I wish that thesolution that will stop the spread of the disease could be found as quickly as possible because this can cause much damage to all of us. I was looking forward to the 2020 Olympics, but now what matters is getting over the pandemic.”
The left-back was looking forward to appearing at the big stage in Tokyo but believes in God’s timing. “Hearing such news at first was sad,” he laments. However, after clearly getting detailed information about the global disaster really changed my perspective. I realised it is better to be safe than sorry. We’drather all be safe from illness so that we can be fit to play in the future.
“It appears that the solution for now is social distancing and being hygenic at all times. We need to support the government’s efforts in fighting the disease. If you don’t do this then the virus will spread rapidly. I wish to thank the StatePresident for implementing the 21-day lockdown measures. I just hope everyone will adhere to this so that we are all safe.”
Mashiane shared the programme that Kaizer Chiefs have put in place, “Firstly,in the morning go through my prescribed work out plan. I sanitise as much as possible throughout the day. I spend some of my time reading articles and guidelines regarding prevention and symptoms of this epidemic.”
Ngezana corroborated his teammate’s views, saying: “It was devastating to learn that the Olympics Games are postponed. But more than the Olympics, we cannot function as usual when we are confronted with this serious pandemic. The world is facing this crisis of the Coronavirus and all what we are all tryingis doing our best to stay safe. We are in it together.”
The hard-tackling Ngezana says he is using the 21-day lockdown measure to keep fit and train hard. “I follow the guidelines as provided by our technical team. I stay indoors and grateful to be spending time with my family. It is rare for us footballers to spend time with family because for most of our time, we are on the road, in camps and training.”
The other Chiefs players Njabulo Blom, Reeve Frosler and NkongiphileNgcobo were also included in a squad of 78 provisional players to take part in the now rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.