Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum Image Credit: EPA

Dubai: The UAE can hope to bag a few more spots in time for the now postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

To date, just two UAE athletes have officially qualified to represent the country at the next edition of the Games that were postponed by a year, late on Tuesday. Both the judokas — Ivan Remarenco and Victor Scvortov — have made it through the qualifying stages with adequate points for the next Olympic Games.

Both Remarenco and Scvortov, who shifted allegiance to the UAE from Moldova way back in 2013, have already qualified for the Tokyo Games. Scvortov, who competes in the men’s 73kg category, has a tally of 3,008 points to make the final cut, while Remarenco who competes in the men’s -100kg category has so far accumulated 747 points to make it through to Tokyo.

With time running out, various UAE sportspersons had opted to undertake the qualifying route in an attempt to book their place at Tokyo 2020. Among the last opportunities were the 14th Asian Shooting Championships — the Asian qualifying tournament for the 2020 Olympics — that were held at the Lusail Shooting Complex in Doha from November 5 to 13 last year. But due to the breakdown in relations between the two nations, none of the UAE shooters attended and in the bargain, forfeited their final chance of 38 places on offer at that regional competition.

More recently, yet another opportunity went begging after none of the UAE lifters managed to qualify at the 2020 West Asian Weightlifting Championships held at the Al Mizhar Indoor Hall, Dubai from February 25 to March 1.

However, all is not lost even though all qualifying competitions have long been completed. The UAE can still remain hopeful for a spot or two, possibly in men’s shooting, athletics or even swimming, in time for Tokyo 2020.

Given its rich and varied history of the UAE in international shooting, the country can be hopeful of at least a spot in the men’s skeet discipline through ace marksman Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum — who has been a regular at the past six Olympic Games.

But a final decision on these spots, if any, will be left entirely up to the respective federations, and closer to the Olympic Games.

Ahmad Al Tayeb, the Chairman, Technical and Sports Department of the UAE NOC
Ahmad Al Tayeb, the Chairman, Technical and Sports Department of the UAE NOC Image Credit: Supplied

“Unfortunately, the qualifying train has long passed us. If we were to have the Olympics in Tokyo as scheduled in July, the UAE contingent would be made up of just these two judokas,” Ahmad Ibrahim Al Tayyeb, Chairman, Technical and Sports Department at the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC), told Gulf News.

“But, that said, the postponement of the Games now may afford us with a glimmer of hope as at least some of our top-class sportspersons can aspire for spots,” he added.

“With the current situation over the coronavirus and the subsequent postponement of the Games, we will need to wait for the next few months and see how federations respond as far as automatic qualifying and quota spots go,” Al Tayyeb stressed.

At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, the UAE’s lone medal — a bronze — came in the men’s 81kg judo category through Moldova-born Sergiu Toma, who went on to defeat Takanori Nagase of Japan to enter the semi-finals, where he lost to Khasan Khalmurzaev. Toma next defeated Italy’s Matteo Marconcini in the bronze medal match to become only the second man in the UAE to win an Olympic medal after Shaikh Ahmad Hasher Al Maktoum’s gold at the 2004 Athens Games.