President Yoweri Museveni has asked the Ugandan Olympics team to use the games in Tokyo to make the country’s name shine in the world.
“Don’t waste your chance now with indiscipline. Preserve yourselves and develop. This Coronavirus is really a test. The problem is not the virus, it is ourselves. People who don’t listen to guidelines carry around the virus. You people, apart from being careful in life, be careful about coronavirus,” Museveni said on Friday afternoon while flagging off Uganda’s team for the Olympics games in Tokyo, Japan’s capital.
Two members of the Uganda nine-member team tested positive last month upon arrival in Japan.
The team had travelled earlier to acclimatize in the Japanese city of Izumisano.
The Olympics were postponed for the first time in their history last year as a result of the pandemic and are still set to go ahead on 23 July despite a fresh wave of cases in Japan. “I was told they were tested many times but allowed to mix with others after Kapchorwa. You are now in strict quarantine. Don’t mix with anybody. You are fully vaccinated, but you can be infected with new clans of the viruses. Watch out,” he said.
The president who was accompanied by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataaha Museveni congratulated the team upon their qualification to the games but advised them to stay true to their skills outlining eight points which he said are important for any sportsperson including talent identification, developing fitness, discipline (by avoiding alcohol, perseverance and a noble spirit (not envious or mean).
“Do your best but if others win, congratulate them,” he said.
The President also said sports is entertainment that should be promoted.
“People are happy to watch competitions. I am happy to see countries in Europe that used to compete by fighting.They used to cause a lot of war among themselves, but they now compete peacefully. Instead of war, they are now competing in football. That’s very good,” he said.
He also said sports brings friendships when people who didn’t know each other meet and it also promotes countries.
“I congratulate you young people for qualifying. To qualify alone is very important. By qualifying, something minimum time, that is how we have got a ticket to go to the Olympics events. I congratulate all of you,” he said.
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataaha Museveni said the flagging-off of the national team to the Olympic Games does not necessarily mean that the COVID-19 pandemic is no more.
“It is in a way a testament to the resilience of the human spirit to exercise our God-given dominion over our environment that is right now plagued by this pandemic. There are unsung heroes and heroines who have been and still are working tirelessly behind the scenes to come up with innovations that will help Mankind return to normalcy in such times as these,” she said.
Mrs Museveni said the attitude of never giving up, sacrificing comfort for competence, leisure for endurance, and surrender for persistence is what has also made the young people on our national Olympic team what they are today.
“Our son Joshua Cheptegei broke and set two world records during this pandemic making us so proud as a country. Therefore, as you carry our national flag high at the Olympic Games, you are reflecting the light and voice of hope that is within you and the society you represent. That voice of hope that urges us to maintain a persistent focus to overcome the limitations around us and within us,” she said.
She urged the team to not only be sports ambassadors for our country but also be of good conduct (discipline).
“The countries you are going to is not free from COVID-19 either just like your home country. Therefore, wherever you are, continue being disciplined with observing the SOPs for preventing you from contracting this Corona virus – do not let your guard down,” she said.
This 32 edition of games and 15th for Paralympics is being held under the theme, “United by Emotion,” and reflects the uniting power of sports world-wide.
According to the Minister of State for Sports Hamson Obua Uganda will feature the biggest contingent of qualified athletes since 37 years ago.
There are 19 athletes including 3 boxers, 3 swimmers, 2 rowers totaling 25 sports representatives.
The Paralympics team also made history for the first time sending the biggest contingency of 8 including 2 para-badminton, 3 para swimming, 1 para-powerlifting and 1 para-shooting.
The men’s’ side in captained by 2020 gold medalist, Stephen Cheprotich whereas the ladies side by Halima Nakayi a gold medalist and Winnie Nanyondo.
The Paralympics are captained by David Emong champion of silver medalist at the Rio Paralympic games in Brazil.