President Museveni has defended Uganda’s low budget for sports in relation to the country’s stellar performance at the just concluded Olympics games in Tokyo.
Ranking 37th overall, out of 206 nations and second in Africa out of 54 countries, only below Kenya, Uganda won two gold medals thanks to Peruth Chemutai in the women’s 3000m steeplechase race and world 5000m record holder, Joshua Cheptegei who triumphed in the men’s 5,000m finals.
Cheptegei also won silver whereas Jacob Kiplimo won bronze in the men’s 10000 metres.
However, government has been blasted by critics over the meagre funding that goes to sports sector .
Addressing the Ugandan team on Wednesday, Museveni said whereas countries like Kenya and South Africa spend many times than Uganda’s shs18 billion on sports, the country is endowed and that this accounts for the stellar performance in sports.
“Someone was saying it was a miracle for Uganda that spends only shs18 billion in sports to perform well than those that spend a lot of money. This was not a miracle(Olympics exploits) . The fact of the matter is that Uganda is uniquely endowed by both the natural resources and human resource. The unfortunate thing is some people don’t see this and mess up some of our natural endowments. The communities which live in different areas have different potentials,” Museveni said .
He said that unlike many other countries, Uganda is endowed in terms of natural and human resources, a thing he said contributes to the country’s good performance when it comes to sports.
“In the highland communities according to physics the atmosphere is thinner up there, their lungs get accustomed to economy of oxygen and when you take them to see level like Japan they outcompete others because they are lungs are efficient.”
Museveni said that many other factors have contributed to the country’s exploits at different sports tournaments throughout the world.
Citing peace, Museveni said the exploits at the 2020 Olympics would not have been realized if the country was still at war just like it was during the past governments.
“Where it is not a miracle is that all this potential is there and has always been there. Why had it not come out before? One of things that was missing was peace. In the past, the people of Bukwo couldn’t showcase their talent because of being at the border with Kenya and were being raided by Pokot in Kenya and Karimojong.”
According to Museveni, any investment into the country’s defence can indirectly benefit other sectors like sports.
Museveni also mentioned Universal Primary Education and “low cost” techniques that he said have contributed to the country’s good performance in sports.
“From very early on, I told our people that anyone with talent in sports should be recruited in forces or public service. It is therefore not a miracle that many of our gold medalists are from the forces,” he said,
“It is a low cost plan on how to maintain and encourage our sports people without using too much money. They get small salary from police. It is not a miracle but people who are not serious think we are not serious. God blesses those who struggle and not those who are just seated and doing nothing,” Museveni said.
The president also noted that sports will help sell the country to the outside world, noting that government will always support sports, despite the small budget.
The Minister for Education and Sports, Janet Museveni hailed the team for raising the flag high.
“ I thank God who went before you as your shield and rearguard to protect you. On behalf of the Ministry of Education and Sports, I thank you Mr. President for supporting our people to excel and develop their talents but also participate in important sports events all over the world,” Mrs. Museveni said.