Karate, softball voting rights questioned

Baitshepi Sekgweng

Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) and Botswana Softball Association (BSA)’s fate hangs in the balance as there is confusion over their voting rights ahead of Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) elective general assembly slated for the November 6th in Gaborone.

Karate and Softball will not be part of the Paris 2024 Olympics even though they were included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as debutants.

Therefore according to International Olympic Committee (IOC), national federations governing the sports of baseball/softball and karate will no longer be obligatory voting members of National Olympic Committees (NOC) after the Olympics games of 2020.

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However, IOC further states that subject to NOC statutes, they (NOCs) will be free to retain such federations as voting or non-voting members more so that both sports will feature at the 2026 Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, Senegal.

With BNOC being custodians of Olympics, Beach and Commonwealth games sources allude that it is not yet clear whether softball and karate will be allowed to vote at the elections.

However, the BNOC general assembly is expected to meet on the 4th of November to discuss the status of the two sporting codes ahead of the elections.

The BNOC constitution states that only full members of the Olympics Committee are eligible to vote in elections, not associate members as Karate and softball are regarded.

Therefore sources allege the two have been struck out of the voting roll.

However, what’s even shocking is that the two sporting codes have been getting financial support for their projects and athletes development from BNOC as well as voting without any difficulties in the past.

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According to BSA president, Katlholo Mosimanegape, they are not fighting or at loggerheads with anyone, but to their understanding they still regard themselves as an Olympic sport code.

BSA PRESIDENT: Katlholo Mosimanegape
BSA PRESIDENT: Katlholo Mosimanegape

“We received a letter from BNOC dated 14th September this year informing us that softball will not be appearing at the 2024 Olympic Games and as such it will be relegated to associate membership status as opposed to full member, therefore forfeiting the right to vote as a non-Olympic Sport code. But what followed was a general assembly of all national federations where softball and karate raised the issue and after deliberations a unanimous decision was reached to retain us as full members despite not being included in the 2024 event only. So, we then participated in the proceedings of the assembly including the Elections Committee selection. My only concern is why the issue is brought now during the time of elections while IOC has long communicated this in April,” said Mosimanegape.

For karate, what’s even more confusing is that they were recently announced as one of the nine sporting codes which will be the core programme of 2023 and 2025 editions of ANOC World Beach games.

Reached for comment, BoKA president, Tshepo Bathai, said;“Confusion is that karate is not yet included in the Paris 2024 (not closed though) but it’s included in Dakar 2026. Members are to decide on this on the 4th of November, a day before elections. Nonetheless Karate and softball are doing nominations for the board at the moment and the constitution allows for BOKA and BSA to take part in the elections,” said Bathai.

Reached for comment, BNOC Acting Chief Executive Officer, Wedu Motswetla, was reluctant to talk about the matter.

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“I would rather not comment on this one,” she said.

This publication tried reaching out to president, Colonel Botsang Tshenyego, but he was reported to be out of the country due to work commitments.

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