Team Bhutan during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo: Bhutan Olympic Committee)

Bhutan enters Olympics for the first time through qualification

The first Olympic games that Bhutan participated in was in 1984 with 6 participants; 3 females and 3 males, in archery only. Later Bhutan also participated in shooting in the Olympics held in London, UK in 2012 followed by the Olympics in Rio, Brazil in 2016. Bhutan was participating in the Olympics on invitation and wild card basis so far.

It is for the first time in the history of Bhutan that an archer, Karma, entered the Olympics as a qualified athlete. Bhutan is participating in 4 disciplines at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics; Karma as an archer, Lenchu Kuenzang as a shooter, Sangay Tenzin as a swimmer and Ngawang Namgyel as a judoka.

The opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was held on 23 July. The athletes from Bhutan travelled earlier on 12 July to be trained in the field before their respective competitions, and also because of the suspension of the transit of passenger to Bangkok from Drukair, which is why the Bhutanese athletes had to travel through India. Archer Karma and swimmer Sangay Tenzin were the flag bearers of Bhutan. Bhutan is the 149th country to march the parade out of 206 countries.

The Olympic Games 2020 was postponed for the first time in the history of the Olympics by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why the Olympics 2020 is happening in 2021. The Olympic organizing committee has refused to call it as Tokyo Olympic 2021 and has decided to call it Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

BBC has reported that the chief of the organizing committee has not canceled the event despite the COVID-19 cases, however, Toshiro Muto, head of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said that he would keep an eye on infection numbers and hold discussions, if necessary.

The team manager of the Bhutan Olympics Committee, Jamyang Namgyel, said that the athletes have been training vigorously for more than a year through the funding support from the IOC program called Olympic Scholarship.

Archer Karma has completed her individual women ranking round on 23 July in Tokyo and has ranked 56th out of 64 archers with a score of 616 points. Karma will be facing Deepika Kumari from India on 28 July in the elimination round at 2:44 pm (Bhutan time). Deepika  Kumari finished 9th in the individual women’s ranking round.

The 10 meter (m) Air Rifle Women’s Qualification for shooter Lenchu Kunzang had her match  at 5:30 pm (Bhutan time) on 24 July, judoka Ngawang Namgyal, in Men -60 kg Elimination Round of 32, faced against Akkus Mihrac from Turkey at 8:32 am (Bhutan time) on 24 July.

The above could not win but put in good effort.

Swimmer Sangay Tenzin will compete in the men’s 100 m freestyle swimming a 4:02 pm (Bhutan time) on 27 July.

The four Bhutanese athletes and five officials are reported to be safe the Olympic Village in Tokyo despite there being some COVID-19 positive cases in the village. The national coach for air rifle shooting, Dorji Phurba, said that they are not traveling out of the Olympic Village, and are following stringent protocols to come back home safe. The athletes are also training in the Olympic Village.

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