DEEP DIVE | Olympics Countdown: Full picture on how Team SA is shaping up ahead of Tokyo 2021

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Sascoc President Barry Hendricks (Gallo)
Sascoc President Barry Hendricks (Gallo)
Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images
  • With less than 100 days to go, Sascoc on Wednesday announced all their plans and protocols to have a safe Tokyo Games.
  • South Africa hope to participate in 23 of the 33 Olympic sports, with the first team set to be announced next month.
  • Teams will also be kitted out in Mr Price Sport and Veldskoen with the former not providing "some competition wear" to athletes.

In less than 100 days, the Tokyo Olympics will begin with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee's (Sascoc's) preparations on track for the rescheduled Games.

In a '100-day' Olympic function, Sascoc revealed the various plans and protocols for Team South Africa in the build-up to, during, and after-Olympics.

Sascoc president Barry Hendricks said on Wednesday that the organisation had secured enough funding to send full teams to this year's Olympics and Paralympics.

"We're looking for more sponsors and partners that will make the trip much better. We can say, with confidence, we will be able to send teams to both events without any problems," said Hendricks in Johannesburg.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved five additional sports, namely surfing, sport climbing, skateboarding, karate and baseball (men) and softball (women).

South Africa is expected to participate for the first time in sport climbing, skateboarding, karate and surfing, with hockey also returning to the country's Olympic contingent.


Last weekend, several swimmers and sailors secured their Olympic and Paralympic qualifying times as Sascoc finalise their team.

South Africa is looking to compete in 23 of the 33 Olympic sports on offer, with many still in the process of qualifying for July's tournament.

Team SA will make their first Olympic team announcement in May, and the last Olympic athletes would be revealed on 4 July.

Meanwhile, Hendricks also announced that Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena had joined the Sascoc board as newly-elected chairperson of the athletes' commission. 

Flying to Japan and Covid-19 measures

Sascoc will be implementing and complying with the IOC and International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Playbook series designed to ensure a safe and successful Tokyo Games.

Chef De Mission for Team SA Patience Shikwambana provided a technical update of its status and delivery to the Olympic Games.

Sascoc on Wednesday mainly focused on the Olympics, but the same measures apply for SA's Paralympic stars, which gets under way from 24 August to 5 September. 

Shikwambana reiterated that there was confidence that South Africa would definitely participate in Tokyo after North Korea pulled out of the Games due to the coronavirus.

South Africa will send an advanced team on 10 July to ensure that all is put in place before the first group of players arrive on 13 July.

Shikwambana said eight groups of athletes would travel to Tokyo depending on when their event(s) start.

While the football, baseball and softball opening rounds take place on 21 and 22 July, the Tokyo Olympics officially kicks off on 23 July with the opening ceremony and the archery and rowing events.

Shikwambana stated that Team SA has yet to secure an airline but noted that the team would fly as per the Playbook guidelines.

"Our team has to leave at least seven days before the start of the competition. Therefore travelling will be staggered," said Shikwambana at the Olympic House in Johannesburg.

Moving to the Covid-19 update, Team SA's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Phatho Zondi, gave an insight on the Covid-19 procedures for the Games, which will conclude on 8 August.

According to the Tokyo Playbook, the athletes' journey begins 14 days before travelling to Tokyo.

"In terms of monitoring Covid-19, we encourage our athletes to limit their interaction with people and monitor," said Zondi, who has also been appointed the Team SA Covid-19 Liaison Officer.

All South African athletes must take a mandatory Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to departure, and it must return negative.

When arriving in Japan, athletes will be required to take a Covid-19 test and wait until they return a negative result to enter Tokyo. Naturally, those who test positive will be isolated and will be required to produce a negative Covid-19 test to enter the Olympic bio-secure bubble.

Athletes will be subjected to Covid-19 tests "at least every four days" throughout their Olympic stay.

The IOC announced that vaccination would not be required and quarantine rules will be waived for Olympic participants.

"Once vaccinations are made available to the broader public, the IOC has made a call that Olympic and Paralympic teams be vaccinated given their role as ambassadors of their NOCs and NPCs," said Zondi on Wednesday.

Zondi added that athletes could be given the option to be vaccinated if plans get into place.

"To this end, Sascoc and the Department of Sports and Recreation are engaging with the government about the vaccination of Team SA. If and when that happens, we will communicate," she said.

What Team SA will be wearing

Team South Africa copped flak at the 2016 Rio Olympics after athletes were seen wearing oversized tracksuits in Brazil.

In March, Sascoc partnered with retailer Mr Price Sport as Team SA's official apparel sponsor for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

This will be the first time South Africa's Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be wearing "locally developed athletic apparel" at the Games' opening ceremony and podium.

Sascoc also revealed a new apparel sponsorship on Thursday with Veldskoen, which will now become the team's official off-field shoe sponsor for the Games.

In making the announcement, Veldskoen MD, Ross Zondagh, said: "It is very surreal for me. Veldskoen started as a moment of curiosity, a little dream. And now, our little dream will be walking out of that stadium tunnel to the opening ceremony. The whole world will see them."

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