The President of the National Olympic Committee Henry Moore yesterday told a cross section of sports journalists at his NOC conference room that they are prepared for this year’s Olympic Games in China slated for next month.
He said they in NOC have almost completed their own part of what they are supposed to do. Normally he said the various sporting disciplines have to select their own athletes who qualify because in Olympic Games you need to qualify for such major games and then submit the list to NOC.
In this case he said none of the athletes in the 6 sporting disciplines was able to qualify for the game, but that the Olympic committee always gives all Olympic family two spaces each to take one female and one male in both athletics and swimming.
President Moore mentioned that as swimming is presently not up to standard in the country they decided not to bring swimming on board and have therefore decided to select the two unqualified athletes from the athletics discipline to represent Sierra Leone in the game.
He said so far they have sent the names of the two athletes and their accreditation form and are now in the process of securing visas for them as they have to travel through Brussels.
He disclosed that in terms of funding the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the local organizing committee BOCOG are responsible for the group except the President and Secretary General of the NOC.
President Moore stated that they have never actually secured funding yet though they are hoping to get it while funding accommodation is being prepared for them in China.
He explained that they are expecting more officials than athletes because some of these officials in Sierra Leone like the NOC President, the NOC Secretary General the Minister of Sports and their various guests as they are part of the Olympic Family and they need to attend different meetings.
He also mentioned that the delegation will comprise of two youth campers who will be in the camp to take care of the properties of the athletes and of these youth campers one will be paid by the Olympic Committee and the other one by the local organizing committee BOCOG.
Questioned why Sierra Leone usually does not qualify for the Olympic Games President Moore said that it is because when some of these athletes go to international competitions to participate they refuse to return back to Sierra Leone. So for that reason those athletes that we have trained over the years are no more in the country so the coaches have to start fresh training on other athletes and after they too have developed they also go to represent Sierra Leone in international competitions and they too never return “this is why Sierra Leone is not producing quality athletes for the Olympic Games.”
President Moore said that even though they are going with two unqualified athletes but “we are hoping that these two athletes are going to have the experience in international competition which will help them in other international competitions.
He stated that if they win medals “it will be a big miracle for the country. I am not crying them down but they need a lot of work to do to reach up to that international standard.”
President went further that government’s own input in the whole exercise is to provide tickets for the Minister and the Director of Sports and they will also provide the outfit for the team and some allowances for the participants.