Hepburn calls for Team Bahamas to rise to the challenge

Tokyo 2020 organizers, the government of Japan and Metropolitan Tokyo remain steadfast that the Games of the 32nd Olympiad will go on this summer.

The games, now set for July 23 to August 8, 2021, and still branded as Tokyo 2020, has garnered significant unrest and uncertainty given the ever-present nature of the coronavirus pandemic, and rapidly rising cases of COVID-19 in the Japanese capital on a daily basis. At least one major nation has pulled out, citing the safety of its athletes and officials as its primary concern.

Here in the The Bahamas, plans remain on the table for full representation.

Cora Hepburn, making history as the first female Chef de Mission of a Bahamian Olympic team, said yesterday that they are prepared to embrace the challenge of attending the games while at the same time ensuring the safety and well-being of all Bahamian athletes, coaches and team officials.

“I am certain that, like me, athletes and coaches around the world have conflicting feelings about Tokyo 2020. We are fierce competitors, who live for the challenges of sport. So, we are eager to get the games on the way,” she said. “At the same time, however, we worry about the risks 

associated with COVID-19, and we lament the restrictions that will somewhat prevent the familiar camaraderie we enjoy with fellow competitors from around the world. … I pray that we will face it head-on and without flinching.”

Hepburn said the risks and challenges of the present-day situation call for us Bahamians to rise to future greatness.

“Every great generation has overcome great odds. Some have weathered wars, famine, and plagues. Now this present pandemic is our great test,” she said. “For the athletes who have already qualified for the upcoming Olympics, as well as those still trying to secure their spot during this difficult time, I am aware of the mental and physical toll that comes with performing in the midst of a pandemic. I truly appreciate your drive and determination, and I encourage you to allow that determination to cause you to realize your goal. The moment is now. I look forward to seeing each of our successful athletes rise to meet this historic occasion.”

A total of seven Bahamians have qualified to represent the country at the Tokyo Olympic Games, and two swimmers have achieved ‘B’ cut qualifying times. The qualified Bahamians are Tynia Gaither in both the women’s 100 and 200 meters (m), Shaunae Miller-Uibo in both the women’s 200 and 400m, both Pedrya Seymour and Devynne Charlton in the women’s 100m hurdles, Samson Colebrooke in the men’s 100m, Steven Gardiner in the men’s 200 and 400m and Jamal Wilson in the men’s high jump. Laura Morley and Joanna Evans have achieved ‘B’ cut qualifying times in swimming in the 200m breast and 400m free events, respectively.

Hepburn, who is expected to be the first Bahamian official in Tokyo to ensure that everything is in place for Team Bahamas, said she thanks her Lord and Savior first of all, and secondly, the Bahamas Olympic Committee for giving her this opportunity to manage Team Bahamas during the Tokyo Olympic Games, stating that it displays a level of confidence in her ability.

For the first time ever, the Summer Olympics is being held in an odd year, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) released a joint statement in March 2020 that the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics would be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than the summer of 2021 – outside of the usual four-year window of the global sports spectacle. It was consequently postponed to get underway this July, but uncertainty remains, as COVID-19 has and continues to be a real threat and possible deterrent to the smooth running of the multi-sports event.

If it is not held in July, it may be canceled altogether, marking what would be just the fourth time the Summer Olympics would have been canceled, but the first time for anything other than war.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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