Zimbabwe: Rugwete Focuses On Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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FOLLOWING the inclusion of karate into the Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee last year, Zimbabwe Karate Union president Joe Rugwete believes there is need for them to start preparing now. Rugetwe said while the discipline will first appear at the Youth Olympic Games next year, their focus is on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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“We need to be very realistic about the situation. We would probably want to look at 2020, 2018 if we go, we will be going to watch and learn,” he said. “The reason is we don’t think we can make it to the Premier League (which is the qualifying event) starting this January. Resources may not allow us to go.

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“We now have to participate in the Premier League. It’s just like a smaller or lesser version of the World Championships. These are invitational tournaments and the athletes will be ranked, there is a point system, so a certain number will qualify for the Olympics.

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“But after we heard the news (inclusion of karate) we started planning for 2020, so we want to focus on 2020. We don’t want to misdirect our efforts. The resources we get now, we would rather use them to prepare for 2020.

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“Qualification begins in 2019, so we have two years to learn and we are hopeful ZOC will help us,” said Rugwete. While Zimbabwe have been doing well in karate over the years, it has been mostly in full contact and for the Olympics it will be the semi-contact style.

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“We have two forms of karate, full contact and semi-contact and it is the semi-contact that is going for the Olympics, so we are starting preparing and our preparation involves participating in the Premier Leagues,” Rugwete said.

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Meanwhile, the ZKU on Friday received the sports administrator award for the 2016 Annual National Sports Awards held in Harare. The awards were moved to this year following a reduced submission of nominees by the national associations last year. Rugwete attributed their success to the continued efforts within the union to strive for success.

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“As ZKU we were surprised with the first accolade we got in 2014 when we were voted the best sports administrator. For 2015 what we did, we just carried on with what we were doing in 2014 and it was less of a surprise when we won that award in 2015”.

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“Come 2016 because there is a lot of information that we are given in terms of how other sporting disciplines are being run, it really didn’t come as a surprise because these are issues of compliance and issues of performance.

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