A one-day taekwondo competition was held in Kabul on Sunday with 100 athletes participating.
The Afghan athletes came from Kabul, Takhar, Balkh and Kunduz province and competed for spots within the Asia and Olympics games. In less than six months the Olympic games are set to begin in Tokyo, on July 23.
“Our athletes are well-motivated and well-prepared for the Olympic games,” said Bashir Taraki, head of the national taekwondo team, wgo added that “today’s competition will help us to get a good result in the Olympic games.”
A young taekwondo competitor, Mohammad Fawad from northern Takhar province, was the champion of the competition.
Within the next week, four Afghan taekwondo athletes, including two women, will leave Afghanistan for a training camp in Uzbekistan to prepare for the Olympic games, according to officials.
Japan’s Olympic sponsors are scaling back advertising campaigns and delaying marketing events for this year’s Summer Games, concerned that public sentiment toward the event is souring amid a fresh wave of COVID-19, Reuters reported on Saturday.
Sponsors also worry that organisers have not told them what contingency plans there are in case the pandemic derails the Games again this year.
That uncertainty over the Olympics marks a fresh blow to domestic sponsors, including many of Japan’s biggest companies, such as Canon Inc and Japan Airlines Co Ltd, who have collectively pitched in more than $3 billion to support the event.
Assurances by both the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee this month that the Games would begin as scheduled on July 23 have not quelled concerns.
In interviews with two dozen sponsors, organisers and officials, sources described deepening uncertainty and frustration as national infection numbers hit record highs in January, turning the public mood against the event.
Nearly 80% of the public now believes the Games should be cancelled or delayed further, according to a January survey by Kyodo.
Fears that an extended emergency declaration could further erode public confidence in the Games is also a worry, at least 11 of the sources said.
“We’re asking ourselves, ‘are we really going to do this?’” said a person seconded by his company to the Olympic organising committee. The person, who like most of those interviewed, declined to be named as he is not allowed to speak to the media, said even raising the topic of a “Plan B” was discouraged.
Canon’s chief financial officer Toshizo Tanaka told reporters on Thursday the company was working under the assumption that the event would go ahead as planned. “But we are considering internally how to respond just in case it can’t be held,” he said.
In response to Reuters questions about sponsors altering their ad and marketing strategy, the Tokyo organising committee said it was working closely with all of its stakeholders towards the success of the Games and said it was receiving their full support.
The committee also said it expects a series of measures implemented by Japan’s government, Tokyo, and other prefectural authorities to improve the virus situation.