The host of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan continues to be good friends with the local sports fraternity. The Japanese government has built a lasting-legacy in the Botswana sports industry across different codes.
The latest helping hand offered by the generous Japanese government is the refurbishment of the Botswana Softball Association softball stadium. This came a week after the Japanese government-sponsored Judo Dojo was officially opened in Gaborone. Since 2009 the Japanese embassy has already spent over P2 million in the improvement of sports infrastructure in Botswana. This generous boost is expected to go a long way towards preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. The assistance to sport codes through the Japanese Government grants scheme comes at a perfect time when Karate and softball have recently been accepted in the Olympic games.
During the Softball grant signing ceremony in Gaborone last week, Japanese Ambassador Masahiro Onishi said the 65,331 USD would be used to improve and upgrade the current softball stadium and provide new softball equipment for players. “This initiative aims to spread the value of sport and promote the Olympic and Paralympic movement worldwide leading up to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.” Addressing local sports officials and the Press this past week, Masahiro said softball is one of the most popular sports in Botswana for both men and women and thus holds a high rank amongst African countries.
“This project is expected not only to facilitate better training environment for players, but will also serve as a well-fledged stadium for official games.” Masahiro said women’s softball was officially added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games alongside men’s baseball. The women’s national softball team in Botswana has a good chance of participating in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Since opening in 2008 the Japanese embassy has made inroads in the local sport fraternity. Some of these contributions included Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects amounting to 87,361 USD awarded BOKA for the construction of Karate Training Hall in 2009
In 2012 the Embassy of Japan coordinated the Japanese karate instructor, Shihan Shigeki Uemura’s official Visit to Botswana in January 2012. Uemura, is a 7th Dan black belt holder and one of the highest graded instructors in the world. During his 22 day-visit to Botswana he conducted training sessions at BOKA, travelled to other parts of the country where he worked with various clubs.Moreover in 2012 the Japanese government provided a 68 577.00 USD grant to the Botswana Judo Federation for the improvement of judo. In 2016 a contract for a grant that amounts to US$ 87,750.00 was signed with the BJF for a judo dojo construction.