News Item: RSA Wins a place at the Continental Games to compete in the Olympics, but doesn’t qualify.
(Category: International Tournaments)
Posted by SANAA
Saturday 30 January 2016 - 12:35:57

Even before South Africa took to the line of the African Qualification Tournament the question of whether we would compete in Rio was decided by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc). In May, Sascoc had reiterated their policy of not accepting Olympic places for teams if they only qualified via African continental routes, because in most sports Sascoc consider the competition to be "too weak". With a few exceptions Sascoc will only accept places won via international competitions.
The SA Archery Association (Sanaa) had begun planning for the 2016 Olympics in 2012 when it appointed Prof Konrad van Warmelo chair of their Olympic Commission. The goal was to identify, nurture and train a pool of archers who could be selected for Rio 2016. Many years of hard work followed with four archers qualifying according to the International Olympic Committee and International Archery Federation rules that allow teams to qualify through the continental championships.

But in April 2015, three years into the Sanaa program, Sascoc insisted that the continental qualification route won’t be considered and in May 2015, Sanaa was required to sign the agreement with Sascoc which effectively ruled out the Continental Qualification event as a means to compete in the Olympics.

The World Archery Federation requires a minimum qualification score (MQS) of 610, while Sascoc has set a MQS of 650, a score only reached on three occasions in Africa in the last 60 years.

Sascoc, however, had signed a policy agreement with Sanaa earlier this year confirming that archers would need to qualify through the World Archery Federation Qualification tournaments in order to be selected and to attain a score of 650.

In practice this means that unless Sascoc grants an exception to this, South Africa's archers will only ever be able to attend an Olympics if they manage to finish in the top three of a World Archery Federation Quota Championship.

It also means that If Sascoc does not overturn its strict policy, which focusses on potential medalists, it will be the first time in 20 years that SA archers have not competed at the Olympics.

Sanaa finds itself in the same boat as Hockey. International Hockey Federation (FIH) President Leandro Negre has claimed, admitting he was “very disappointed” by the decision and that he believed political reasons may be behind SASCOC choosing not to send their teams to Rio 2016 and that SASCOC were perhaps unhappy with SAHA for not attempting to get more black players involved in the sport.

The FIH were told that, under the terms of the Olympic Charter, all parties must respect the integrity and authority of their National Olympic Committee.

SASCOC, therefore, has the final say on what teams to send to Rio 2016 and the selection of athletes.

According to Selwyn Moskovitz, the Sanaa President, there has been a fair amount of correspondence and discussion with Sascoc. “Sascoc are aiming for medalists only and feel that our athletes do not stand a fair chance. While we make every effort to qualify in terms of the Sascoc criteria, the part that aggrieves me is that it was unfair for Sascoc to have only decided on its policy a year before the event, something that may have wasted three years of valuable resources and given unfair hope to our candidates”.

Dr Moskovitz, who steps down as the Sanaa President this week, has made a strong recommendation to the Sanaa Council to tread carefully in planning competing in quadrennial events without confirming Sascoc policy at the onset as late decisions have a major impact on our administrators and athletes lives.

“I have made it clear to Sascoc that I believe their qualification criteria is unfair and that it sends a negative message to the rest of the world, presenting a host of valid arguments. However, their decision was final and we were required to agree on the Rio 2016 Olympics qualification criteria”, he added.

At the 11th FAA Championships & African Continental Qualifying Tournament for the Olympic Games held in Windhoek (28-31 January 2016), All three South African Recurve Men Archers shot through the 1/4 finals earning a slot for RSA at the World Games.

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Archery is a global sport with 130 member nations and beside being one of the most gender-friendly sports, was the most watched sport at the 2012 London Olympics.

This news item is from South African National Archery Association
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