BLANTYRE--A shortfall of ₤6,000 which couldn’t be raised by cash-strapped Malawi led to the last minute cancellation of the country's first participation at the London 2012 Paralympics which started Wednesday.
"We could not do otherwise but cancel the trip at the last minute. All our efforts to raise K3.5 million (about ₤6,000 failed. It is a huge disappointment," Juma Mkandawire, president of the local organising committee, told MaraPost on Thursday.
Malawi, which was to participate in the games for the first time, was on a solidarity trip and intended to send two athletes to run in 100 and 200 meters races.
"They are completely blind athletes. Their morale is down because we are developing a minority sport. We wanted to show the world that people with disabilities in Malawi are able to do it," said Mkandawire.
Eighteen year-old Chisomo German was to compete in the 200 meters, while Janet Shedani, 17, could run in the 100 meters, along with their guides.
Their coach George Luhanga said the trip offered "an opportune time to learn how other coaches work."
"We are all devastated because the government failed to come to our rescue," he said.
Luhanga used his house in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre as a camp for the athletes who spent seven days preparing for the trip.
The International Committee of the Paralympics bankrolled Malawi with ₤4,000 and the southern African country was to raise the ₤6,000.
"We have been asked to refund the money. We are appealing to the government and the general public in Malawi to help us refund the money because with transactions, we lost some money in the process," Mkandawire said.
He said they were afraid of sanctions if they failed to return the ₤4,000.
“The image of Malawi is at stake here," he said.
Malawi, with a population of 14 million, has over 300,000 people with disabilities.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.