Monrovia – The Liberia National Olympic Committee (LNOC) have been finalizing its preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympic, which is officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad and commonly known as Rio 2016.
It is a major international multi-sport event, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 5-21. More than 10,500 athletes from 206 national Olympic committees (NOCs), including debutants Kosovo and South Sudan, will compete for 306 sets of medals.
The games will feature 28 Olympic sports — including rugby sevens and golf, which were added by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2009.
These sporting events will take place at 33 venues in Rio, Sao Paulo (Brazil’s largest city), Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Brasilia (Brazil’s capital) and Manaus.
The LNOC executive committee held a meeting on Thursday in which chef de mission (chief of mission) Malcolm Wleemongar Joseph briefed the body on progress, challenges and constraints.
Following the closed-door meeting, Joseph told journalists that the LNOC did submit a US$151,000 budget to the government.
“We’ve submitted a bare minimum budget to the government and are looking forward to its speedy passage. We know there are constraints in government. That’s why we kept it at a bare minimum. Considering what other countries will spend on the Olympics, this shouldn’t be a big deal for our government,” Joseph said.
He said the LNOC was forced to procure official uniforms for athletes and officials because Liberia was the only country that wasn’t unified at the 2012 London Games.
“We can’t sit and wait for government’s approval before we do something. The Olympic Games is a unique event and there are things all participants must do such as being unified. So while we await the approval of our budget, we’ve procured some uniforms.
“I’ll not give you an exact figure because we’ve not completed the process. We are still registering officials and athletes online. Once we complete those processes, we will inform the public through the process,” Joseph promised.
With government having experienced a perennial budget shortfall since 2011, will Liberia miss out on this year’s event since?
“I don’t think so because even during the war years, Liberia participated in the Olympic Games. Now that we’ve enjoyed peace for more than 10 years, Liberia can’t afford to miss out. Again, we understand the constraints government is faced with but we think it will do something,” he prayed.
Liberia will most likely participate in the athletic events and the secretary-general of the Liberia Athletics Federation Frederick Krah said everything is being scripted.
“Well, we have been holding trainings for local athletes but as you know most of our athletes are foreign-based. The IOC sets a benchmark or targets for athletes competing in its games and we’ll have to train local athletes internationally in order for them to compete,” Krah said.
Liberia lost to Ghana 2-0 on April 26, 2015 and 5-1 on May 2, 2015 at the Tamale Stadium in Tamale in football’s qualifiers.
Rio 2016, which will be the first Summer Olympic Games under the IOC presidency of Thomas Bach, was announced at the 121st IOC session held in Copenhagen, Denmark on October 2, 2009. The other finalists were Madrid, Spain; Chicago, United States and Tokyo, Japan.
Rio will become the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics, the second city in Latin America to host the event after Mexico City in 1968 and the first since 2000 to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.