Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports have defended the move to have more officials than athletes in the delegation to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Some quarters questioned why the officials are outnumbering athletes, who are the key players.
The delegation comprises eight officials, including Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama, five athletes and four coaches.
But statements issued separately by MOC and the ministry on Thursday, state that all the members of the delegation have key roles to play at the games.
Reads part of the statement from MOC in part: “During the tour, the minister will have high-profile bilateral meetings with the Minister of Education, Culture and Sports in Japan followed by another very important meeting with the International Olympic Committee’s [IOC] president His Excellency Thomas Back.
“In these meetings, officials accompanying the minister will be in attendance. Besides that, the president [Jappie Mhango] and general secretary [John Kaputa] of MOC will also attend an IOC meeting.
“It should also be noted that the MOC vice-president Flora Mwandira is travelling as the leader of delegation while Naomi Chinatu is going there as Covid-19 liaison officer which is a requirement.”
MOC also states that other countries travel with bloated delegations, which include a coach, medical officer, dietician and physical trainer for every discipline.
The national Olympic body also states that the team, led by the chef de mission, leaves the country today for pre-games training camp before proceeding to the Games’ village on July 19 while other members will leave on July 21.
On its part, the ministry states that it is a requirement as per the organisers’ invitation, for ministers from participating countries to attend the opening ceremony of the games.
“Subsequently, the minister is also scheduled to attend important meetings relating to sports development with two senior Japanese government officials, including the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, commissioner of the Japanese Sports Agency, IOC president and the president of the International Swimming Federation.
“During such important meetings, it is a requirement that the minister is accompanied by technocrats who will support the minister during the meetings and also ensure that resolutions made are well documented and that follow ups are made for easy implementation and this is where the PS [Principal Secretary Oliver Kumbambe] and the director of sports [Jameson Ndalama] are coming in. The ministry’s officials will only be in Japan for a few days.”
The ministry further states that Malawi National Council of Sports acting executive secretary Henry Mereka is part of the delegation as implementer of government sports policy.
“He is, therefore, required to be part of the delegation to monitor and support the teams programmes.
“The other four officials from MOC are part of the organising committee of the games and technical panel for the Malawi team,” the statement further reads.
The games will run from July 23 to August 8.
The list of athletes is as follows: Asimenye Simwaka (athletics), Arineo David (archery), Harriet Boniface (judo), Filipe Gomez and Jessica Mwakwenda (swimming).