June, 2021


Pakistan at the Olympics

Despite all odds, it looks like the Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled to be held in 2020 but now postponed to late July, will eventually be held. While there is still some uncertainty, with calls increasing to cancel the Olympics due to the rise of the third wave in some countries, so far the chances of the international games to be held look brighter and brighter as countries assemble their teams.

On that front, despite lockdowns slowing down activity, Pakistan has also successfully managed to sort out a team. Our athletes achieved the entry standards, either by qualifying time or by world ranking in several track and field events. The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) has completed the accreditation process of the players and officials. This includes Arshad Nadeem (javelin throw), Usman Khan (equestrian) and Gulfam Joseph and Khalil Akhtar (shooting).

This group has made headway for Pakistan — for the first time in history, Pakistan entered one rider in the Olympic equestrian competition by finishing in the top two. Our shooters have also achieved places for air pistol events by virtue of their best finishes at the ISSF World Championships and Asian Championships.

However, Pakistan’s team is not complete yet — the POA still needs to place two athletes and swimmers and thus is still looking to recruit players.

While Pakistan has made progress in the Olympics, we have so far not had a memorable run at the international games, with the last time Pakistan having won a single medal in the Olympic games in 1992 at Barcelona. There are a number of reasons for the poor performance — including poor policies by our sports ministries and, unfortunately, it does not look like things are changing. POA recently expressed its dissatisfaction over the steps the federal sports ministry will adopt in the new national sports policy, as they fear that, if implemented, all the national sports federations will be banned by their respective international bodies.

The government needs to pay heed to the POA’s concerns, and ensure that all Olympics requirements, particularly regarding Covid, are met strictly and on time, so that our athletes are not deprived of an international opportunity. On previous occasions, Pakistan made a name in field hockey, athletics and wrestling. Where are these sports now?

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