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Japan to continue training South Sudanese athletes

By Manyuon Mayen Manyuon

After the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were called off due to the Coronavirus, the Maebashi City of Japan at Gunma Prefecture has announced a new plan to continue with the training camp for four South Sudanese athletes and their coach until the end of next year’s competition.

In late 2019, South Sudanese athletes went to Japan to spend nearly a year in the Eastern Japanese City to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics which was supposed to take place in July this year.

But in March, the President of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe held a conference to discuss the changing environment due to COVID-19 pandemic and the Olympics Games in Tokyo.

As a result, the Olympic Games got postponed to 2021 leaving the trainees unable to accomplish their intended mission by this year.

However, in the press conference in Japan this week, Maebashi City announced that it will continue to accept the training camp until the end of this year and next year’s competition for South Sudanese.

Mayor Ryu Yamamoto expressed his commitment to tackle the challenges he is facing such as finance and volunteers.

On 20th of this month, former Japanese ambassador to South Sudan Seiji Okada and the new ambassador-designate Noahiro Tsutsumi visited Maebashi City and met the athletes.

The South Sudanese team is currently holding a training camp for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.  

The South Sudanese athletes appreciated each other for the decision to continue, and renewed their determination to participate in the tournament.

They have said that new plan was an opportunity for them to gain more training.

The continuation is said to have been decided due to the desire from the athlete team and the country’s Olympic Committee to continue, and the fact that there was a large amount of donations from all over the country for the “crowd funding type hometown tax payment” implemented by the city to secure funds.

Mayor Ryu Yamamoto, who had a press conference this week, said, “We have challenges such as financial aspects and securing volunteers, but we want to continue the challenge,”

To continue the decision, Coach Omirock Joseph Rangeo Tobio said, “I want the athletes to train with the awareness of the support and cooperation of the Japanese people,”

Guem Abraham, a 1,500-meter male runner and Majuk Matet said they still can’t believe the warm support of the Japanese people.

“I want to do my best at the Olympics and aim for a good record.” Guem Abraham said.

Hiroshi Yoshino, President of the City Athletics Association, said, “For them, the opportunity to postpone the tournament is an opportunity”

According to the city, the newly needed funds will increase by 10 million Japanese Yen to a total of 30 million Yen. The total donation amount as of the 19th was approximately 21 million yen, and the remaining 9 million yen will continue to be donated.

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