Was the Tanzanian Tokyo Olympics sabotaged?

Alphonce Simbu

The Olympic Games have just come to an end in Tokyo, Japan, and for the United Republic of Tanzania, it was yet another empty-handed outing.

For sports lovers, the news media continued where it has always left off in any sports in which Tanzania is not involved, blacking them out like they do not exist.

However, in a connected world, it was not difficult to note that from nearly 90 country lists, Tanzania’s name appeared at the bottom with a host of other countries that participated but performed dismally at the global games.

Alphonce Simbu who was one of our three athletes in the Games showed up at position 7 in the Marathon won by Kenyan legend, Eliud Kipchoge. His performance was incredible under the circumstances and we honour as well two other Tanzanians who did their best.

The time to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions has come. Overall, is there a serious sports policy in Tanzania and if there is, is it being implemented to the letter? Other than a policy that is to be implemented by the Ministry in charge of sports, does the country have a funding mechanism to ensure that sports get the much-needed resources for a seamless delivery?

Tanzania Sports
Mkongwe Kipchoge

We have to ask, was there sabotage from the very people expected to manage and deliver a successful Olympic games outing for  Tanzania? Were officials as high as in the Tanzania Olympic Committee, Athletics Tanzania, with the support of senior Ministry of Sports Officials complicit in this high level?

Tanzania Sports has information that indeed there was high-level sabotage from the very people who were tasked with delivering a successful outing for our athletes.  It is difficult to fathom why such a scheme existed but safe to say, this seems to follow a clear pattern. Every time we have an international sporting outing the underlying vissicuitudes include people scrambling for the opportunity to get on the free ride that includes travel, allowances and other freebies that come with it.

For this reason, team selection gets muddied up so that people with friends in high places get themselves a spot as coaches while the deserving poor coaches are left cooling their heels with not a chance to deliver on a mission they have long have been at.

 Tanzania must ask itself hard questions or forever remain silent on the issue of sports. Our neighbours Kenya have their problems in sports including carrying certified joy riders to every Olympic games but that is a story for another day in Tanzania Sports website.

However, with all their problems, their team won itself gold medals and by that led African countries medal haul at the global games ahead of counties like Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria among others all that has a bigger population and GDP. 

Why must Tanzania ask itself pertinent questions? The Kenya national anthem was played to a global audience four times to celebrate all its gold-winning athletes. Tanzania has long lost its position as the go-to country which Julius Nyerere made us. Our opportunity lies in sports but we are not doing anything to write home about.

The question then should be –do we want the glory and attendant global limelight that will give Tanzania the heshima (respect)  it deserves but does not seem to want to work for? The answer to this question, we at Tanzania Sports do not have.

On social media, Tanzanians seem to have those answers.  It is the repeated opinion of many that we need to harness the abundant talent that this vast country has. It is also a shared opinion that besides what politicians do and say, it is only sports that can united all Tanzanians and give us the global respect that we desire but seem to have no Nyerere-like persona to pull that off .

Sporting talent abounds in this country what is missing is the nexus of talent with management nous. Our many leaders are very much joy riders in matters of sports. They wait for radio talking heads before wading in with their opinions. Those talking heads never talk sports. They are captives of the tragedy of our football clubs Simba and Yanga.

What is needed is a unity of purpose. A seriousness in people who are in charge and that is where the tyre meets the road. Sports excellence will demand sports management excellence and as of now, we do not have it. What we have is Haji Manara and his ilk and they are mere noise makers.


Written by Israel Saria

For the last 20 years I have been working as a football pundit. This experience has provided me with a very useful insight into football and the opportunity to carry out extensive research into the game including its players, the stadiums, the rules and tactics and I have also been grateful to meet a wide range of people connected to football in the UK, Tanzania, Germany .....

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