Ahead of the 200m final tonight, Botswana Sports Minister, Thapelo Olopeng has told BBC Sports that they will hold a national holiday in honour of Isaac Makwala if he is able to win the Men’s 200m gold at the World Athletics Championship currently ongoing in London.
Isaac Makwala who was barred from running the 400m amidst claims of suffering gastroenteritis was asked to run alone in the 200m and has reached the final to be raced tonight.
Makwala, 30, who has indicated that he is “still running with a broken heart” will come against South African’s Wayde van Niekerk who won the 400m that Makwala insist should have been allowed to run.
Botswana Sports Minister, Thapelo Olopeng despite Makwala not allowed to race in the 400m also indicated that the government will still pay Isaac Makwala $10,000 (£7,500) as the same amount he would have received had he won gold in the Men’s 400m.
“The president has set aside a certain day for him”, says Thapelo Olopeng.
“It will be a public holiday for people to come and meet Makwala and all over the country there will be celebrations with music and dancing. The man has lifted the name of our country higher and higher, and he deserves this welcome as our hero”.
The Sports Minister was also quick to add that the country had submitted a further complaint about the handling of the issue by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
Olopeng said; “The way he performed yesterday [in the 200m qualifiers] he showed no signs of ailment and I don’t understand why the IAAF has continued with the same decision”.
“They should call for a re-run or give him the same opportunity as they did in the 200m [a time-trial run on his own]”, he added.
“They have not responded and if they don’t then we will take the matter forward, we have a legal team waiting to give us advice on how far we can take it”, the Sports Minister indicated.
“What happened to our athlete has created a lot of displeasure in the country and we are very unhappy. To me it’s a great disappointment”, Thapelo Olopeng was quick to point out his frustration.