LAHORE: A 22-member Pakistan contingent, athletes and officials, will participate in the Tokyo Olympics starting on July 23rd (Friday) with closing ceremony on August 8th (Sunday). The contingent was announced by the National Olympic Committee (NOC) Pakistan on Wednesday. “The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) takes the opportunity to share the contingent details of Pakistan set to participate in the Tokyo Games 2020. As of now, 22 athletes, athlete support staff, officials and medical support personnel are part of the contingent. The contingent includes in particular two Covid-19 Liaison Officers for point of contact between the contingent, POA and organisers. Apart from those joining from overseas, all the contingent members have been vaccinated and have submitted vaccination certificates to the POA,” said POA Secretary General Muhammad Khalid Mahmood. He said the POA would like extend best wishes to the IOC, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Japan Government and people of Japan for organising the Olympic Games in very difficult times of Covid-19. “An unbelievable job is being carried out by the IOC and Japan. It’s very brave and impressive,” Khalid added. The Olympic Games is the world’s biggest sporting festival. Biggest in the numbers of its competitors, its spectators, the global reach and television coverage. On March 25, 2020, the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 were postponed to 2021 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the first such delay in the Olympic Games’ 124-year modern history. The postponement marked the first break in the four-year cycle for the Summer Olympics since the 1940 and 1944 Games were cancelled because of World War II. Japan’s efforts to host the Olympics in Tokyo, against all odds, hurdles and sharp criticism, have been closely tied to the concept of recovery from catastrophic events. The Japanese Government has dubbed the 2020 Tokyo Games the “Reconstruction Olympics,” referring to the country’s recovery following the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. But the Japanese public remains resolutely opposed to the Olympic Games, amid fears that the influx of athletes, sport officials and journalists could worsen the continuing COVID-19 outbreak in Tokyo and other parts of the country. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers, however, remain steadfast in their resolve to continue with already delayed Games. The final preparations for the event are taking place even as anti-virus measures remain in place in large parts of Japan, but Olympics organisers and the Japanese Government are promising stringent protocols to prevent the 93,000 Olympics visitors from worsening the country’s outbreak. They say the Games will serve as a beacon of humanity’s resilience and its supposed triumph over the pandemic. The competition is now shaping up to be the most expensive Olympics ever and will be the first to take place during a pandemic. Pakistan chances at Tokyo Games: It is lamentable that Pakistan, one of the most populous nations, failed to win a medal in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016. Anybody outside the country who spent time watching the last Olympic Games in Brazil might not realise that sports are played in Pakistan. Most of us would have already forgotten the athletes who represented Pakistan at the Rio Olympics 2016. The country was represented by seven athletes, who competed in the qualification phases of their respective events and none of them went beyond this stage and neither did they look close to competing with their highly skilled, trained and battle-hardened opponents. It is unfortunate that Rio 2016 was no different from London 2012, Beijing 2008 or any of the preceding Olympics going back to Atlanta 1996, with Pakistan returning empty-handed from each of the last six Olympic Games. The sum total of Pakistan’s Olympics achievement since 1947 is ten medals. Eight in hockey, including three golds, one each in wrestling and boxing. Pakistan haven’t won a medal for the last 29 years. International sports performances by Pakistan in the last seven decades have much to commend them. Arguably, Pakistan’s performances in many sports have inspired many world countries to emulation to future achievements. But the last two decades have been a different story altogether. Over the years, Pakistan sports have gone to the dogs. Pakistan’s performance in international sports is no longer consistent with its population and economic bases. In late 1950s and early 1960s, we were amongst the top five sporting nations in Asia and have now come down to the lowest. We used to excel in major sports. Now we are not even amongst the first 30 out of 45 participating countries in the Asian Games. Hockey was the main medal sport for Pakistan since 1948 Olympics. But it failed to qualify for the Rio Games 2016 as well as Tokyo Olympics 2020. Pakistan chances for a medal at Tokyo Olympics remain bleak. Pakistan contingent (athletes, support personnel and officials) Athletics: Najma Parveen, Arshad Nadeem (athletes) with Shagufta Noreen and Syed Fiaz Hussain Bokhari as support staff. Badminton: Mahoor Shahzad (athlete) with Wajid Ali Chaudhry as support staff. Judo: Shah Hussain Shah (athlete) with Yusuke Kobayshi as support staff. Shooting: Gulfam Joseph, Muhammad Khalil Akhtar, Ghulam Mustafa Bashir (athletes) with Muhammad Farrukh Nadeem as support staff. Swimming: Syed Muhammad Haseeb Tariq and Bisma Khan (athletes) with Ahmed Ali Khan and Mubasharah Bano Raza as support staff. Weightlifting: Talha Talib (athlete) with Hafiz Imran Butt as support staff. Chef De Mission: Brig Muhammad Zaheer Akhtar (Vice President of Pakistan Olympic Association). COVID Liaison Officer: Javaid Shamshad Lodhi (Representative of Olympic Sports POA, Shooting). COVID Liaison Officer: Doctor: Dr. Asad Abbas Shah (Secretary POA Medical Commission). Administration Official: Muhammad Nasir Ijaz Tung (Member POA HR and Admin Committee).