From the onset, I would like to commend our boxer and flag-carrier at the Olympics, JONAS JUNIAS, for the courage he displayed last night, I can imagine how hard it must have been for him to walk out of jail into the boxing ring.Never mind the good physical shape he displayed, because the determining factor was the psychological conditioning.Psychology is an aspect often neglected in Namibian sports because our focus is solely on physical fitness. Four days in jail, in a foreign country for that matter, cannot be an easy situation for any sane human being.
Therefore, I ask the question, did the Namibian officials who accompanied our athletes to Brazil bother to take Jonas Jonas for any sort of mental or psychological checkup before his fight?I am not saying all this because he lost the fight. In fact, it was a conviction I held since I heard that he would be allowed to fight if he is released on time. Many of you might be saying had Jonas won I would not have been saying this, but this is just one of those things that cannot be ignored.
Coming from the Land of the Brave, I will not be surprised if Jonas himself insisted on going on with the fight, but those in charge still had the responsibility to make sure that he is fit mentally. If media reports indicating that Jonas was incarcerated in the notorious Bangu penitentiary complex on the edge of Rio de Janeiro are true, then the mental fitness aspect becomes more critical. According to Bloomberg, Bangu prison smells from sewage ditches blend with whiffs of deep-fried tidbits, for someone coming from Namibia this must have felt like hell.
On Public Relations
Another appalling thing of Jonas’ prison saga is the pathetic public relations from those accompanying the athletes. It comes as no surprise that the rest of the world knew before all Namibians that Jonas was arrested because PR in Namibia has never been taken serious.
After the damage was done, our team of officials come with a video that makes the entire saga more awry and places the country in further distress and embarrassment.
I just want to let the Namibia National Olympic Committee president, Abner Xoagub, know that his ineffective communication skills have let this great nation down.
A day after the incident there was still no official press statement and when the story broke Xoagub tried to shift the blame on the media.
How low can one go?
To come out later and blame Namibians for unfairly making conclusions without knowing the story was a pure insult to the nation.
Like one of my PR guru friends said when the story broke, the officials were supposed to release a holding statement saying: “Allegations of sexual assault have been brought to our attention and we deem it as a serious matter and not in conformity with Olympic ideals of unity and spirit of the games. We have fully cooperated with the Brazilian police and other stakeholders to get to the bottom of this. As more details emerge we will update the public but in the meantime we can say that our athlete is well and coping during this difficult period but he has our support and surely that of the Namibians back home.”
Well, I am not a PR expert, but I will surely buy into a press release of that nature instead of being brainwashed by social media.
If he did not want us to make our own conclusions, why did they now inform the nation about the incident the moment the police arrested Jonas. It is shameful that taxpayers spent so much money to send a team of officials to Rio and in the end learn on Twitter that one of the athletes was arrested.
The question that begs an answer is: when was Mr Xoagub going to inform the nation about Jonas’ arrest had it not been released on social media?
But then again, like I said earlier, its common practice in Namibia to wait for situations to explode before acting on them.
As we wait for the Brazilian law to take its course, we keep our athlete in our prayers and wish him well.