Simbu: We are in limbo

What you need to know:

  • Simbu was supposed to gauge his skills in the Mumbai Marathon initially slated for February 28, but was postponed to May 30 this year

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s long-distance runner Alphonce Simbu has said he is facing difficulties in securing international trials ahead of the Tokyo’s Olympics later this year due to Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

Simbu was supposed to gauge his skills via the Mumbai Marathon that was scheduled for February 28 this year, but was postponed to May 30.

Tanzania’s top runner was also scheduled to compete in the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon slated for April 10. But he says he has received a report from the organisers that the event has been postponed indefinitely.

As the situation stands, he and female runner Failuna Matanga may have to compete in the Olympics without first gauging their skills. In any case, both are in training; but they cannot know their actual performance without participating in reputable events.

“I am now in off-camp training ahead of the Tokyo Games. I am waiting a report from Athletics Tanzania on when we start a training camp. Even football and other sports... You must have built up your skills before competing in important events. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many competitions have been postponed,” said Simbu.

He said even runners who are yet to secure qualifying marks for the Tokyo Olympics are in danger due to the number of qualifying events which are likely to be cancelled.

Meanwhile, participation of the Tanzania amateur boxers in the Tokyo Games is hanging in balance following the travel restrictions to be imposed by France.

The move will cause the final global boxing qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics to be scrapped. In fact, the Japan Boxing Federation said the places at this summer’s pandemic-delayed Games are likely to be determined by proper rankings.

Tanzania is expected to field two amateur boxers, Alex Isendi and Yusuh Changarawe, in the Paris event.

The report says that the qualifier was due to take place in Paris in June. But, coronavirus-caused travel restrictions - and the rescheduling of the final European qualifier from April to June - have forced organisers to pull the plug.

Boxing qualification events for the Tokyo Games are being organised by a special task force formed after the IOC stripped the International Boxing Association of its right to manage the sport at the Olympics.

The decision in June 2019 came after an investigation into alleged serious mismanagement at boxing’s crisis-ridden ruling authority.

Qualification from the final world event is now likely to be decided by rankings determined by the task force, thereby depriving some boxers of their chance to fight for a place at the postponed 2020 Games.

The International Olympic Committee appointed Morinari Watanabe, an IOC member from Japan president of the International Gymnastic Federation.