News Cover

Stranded in Japan, South Sudan Athletes Keep Tokyo Olympic Dreams Alive

Tokyo Olympics (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Tokyo Olympics (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Four South Sudan athletes with a coach are in Tokyo profiting from coaching amenities that are not obtainable of their poor residence nation.

  • AFP
  • Last Updated: April 9, 2020, 11:39 AM IST

Maebashi: The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was a heavy blow for a lot of athletes, however a workforce of South Sudanese sprinters coaching in a Japanese city are hoping to show the delay to their benefit.

The 4 athletes and a coach have been within the metropolis of Maebashi, north of Tokyo, since November, profiting from coaching amenities that are not obtainable of their younger however poor residence nation.

And with information of the historic postponement of the Games over the coronavirus, they’ve determined to remain on till no less than July, hoping to beef up their abilities.

“The Tokyo Olympics (have been) postponed. It’s not a problem,” workforce coach Joseph Rensio Tobia Omirok, 59, informed AFP.

“I’m happy because I’m still training, and in other countries they have no training. They’re sitting in their house but here we are OK… Training now is going OK.”

The determination to postpone the Games for a 12 months till July 2021 got here after athletes and sports activities associations heaped strain on organisers and Olympic officers, pointing to scrapped qualifying occasions and restrictions on coaching.

Japan has thus far prevented the form of main outbreak seen in Europe and the United States and even a state of emergency declared on Tuesday solely applies to some elements of the nation, not together with Gunma prefecture, the place Maebashi is situated.

The metropolis of 340,000 has pledged to proceed serving to the younger athletes by offering them with lodging, meals and using an area public monitor, together with a military of volunteer coaches and translators.


Maebashi determined to host the workforce — the coach, one feminine and two male Olympic sprinters and one male Paralympic sprinter — as a part of its efforts to advertise peace by sports activities.

The athletes have visited native colleges and group occasions to speak about their homeland, which gained independence in 2011 and has been battling to recuperate from a civil battle.

They recurrently practise with native youngsters and have realized to talk easy Japanese.

The athletes say they’ve come to take pleasure in life within the metropolis, abloom with cherry blossoms after a bitter winter, regardless of being greater than 10,000 kilometres from residence, the place they needed to practise on easy empty fields, not a monitor.

“Before I reached Japan, I didn’t know what kind of people the Japanese are,” mentioned Abraham Majok Matet Guem, 20, who runs the 1,500 metres.

“The love I got here… is more than even what I expected. So I have not missed home so much because I am staying in a very peaceful environment with very loving people. So I was very surprised at that.”

The metropolis has raised greater than 14 million yen ($128,000) from throughout Japan by a particular taxation scheme and is continuous to boost funds to safe the entire 20 million yen wanted to maintain the workforce on by July.

Officials have been fast to reassure the workforce they’d be welcome to remain till no less than July, after the Olympic delay was introduced.

“We are eager to give them our continued support,” mentioned Shinichi Hagiwara, a sports activities official on the Maebashi metropolis authorities.


The athletes’ destiny after that will likely be determined after town consults with South Sudan’s Olympic authority, the Japanese authorities, the monitor workforce and others, Hagiwara mentioned.

The athletes mentioned their heat reception left them hoping they may sooner or later be capable of welcome their hosts to their residence nation.

“Right now, people are scared to go to South Sudan. But we believe in the near future, it will be a very peaceful country and everyone will be free to travel there,” mentioned Guem.

“And we shall be happy to see people from Maebashi there also.”

Guem left his mom and 7 siblings at residence to coach within the metropolis for the Games and mentioned the delay was not more than a minor bump in his Olympic journey.

“My dream is always, before I retire from athletics, I should become an Olympic medallist,” he mentioned.

“I will continue training and it is my hope to one day be a champion. I still have time.”

Related posts

Leave a Comment