The countdown is on for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. And Basque Team, the foundation responsible for promoting and endorsing Basque sport at international competitions, is busy putting the finishing touches to its preparations to achieve record Basque participation.
Pending confirmation of those who will finally attend the most important sporting rendezvous of the last four years, for the time being the canoeists Maialen Chourraut, Ander Elosegi and Higinio Rivero have received named tickets for the event while the oarswoman Virginia Díaz and the canoeist Iñigo Peña are well on their way to participating as their skiffs have already classified. The wheelchair basketball players Asier García, Txema Avendaño, Agurtzane Eguiluz and Beatriz Zudaire hope to be selected for teams that have already qualified, as does the field hockey player Diego Arana. The athlete from Gipuzkoa Iraitz Arrospide, for her part, has achieved the minimum qualification score and hopes to be selected for Tokyo. The golfer Jon Rahm, the ambassador of Basque Team, has also classified thanks to his current position in the world ranking. Four years ago, a total of 24 sportspeople competed in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics with the backing of Basque Team, and the aim for the coming Olympic fixture is to repeat and even surpass that number.
Behind lie almost four years of competition, effort and the wholehearted backing of sportspeople in all kinds of international competitions. To give but one example, in 2019 the Basque Team Foundation contributed more than 560,000 euros to helping a total of 66 top level athletes and 9 technicians, very similar to the figure for the four previous years, to which another 300,000 euros were added for different sporting projects.
From now on and until the coming month of July, the Basque athletes must complete their work and classify for the XXXII Olympic Games. Once there, Basque Team has joined EiTB to prepare special coverage of the Games, where for the first time both the Foundation and the public Communications Group will specifically monitor the athletes’ participation in the different sports categories at both the Olympic and the Paralympic Games. Added to this is the song that will accompany them on their way to Tokyo 2020, performed by Lidia Insausti with words by the bertsolari, or singer of improvised verse in Basque, Andoni Egaña, and music by Mikel Unzurrunzaga (DJ Makala) and Juan Carlos Vidaurreta.
Lastly, the Basque delegation will have two menus exclusively designed by the 5-star Michelin chef Eneko Atxa, who incorporates the nutritional recommendations of the Basque Team Foundation’s biomedical expert, Xabier Leibar: a first proposal of vegetable tartar, sirloin steak with apple, cauliflower, mushrooms and Idiazabal cheese gnocchi, followed by rice pudding, and a second option of marinated fish and vinaigrette, farmhouse egg yolk on stewed wheat and the jus of charcoal-roasted peppers, with a dessert of caramelised French toast. Two meals worthy of the podium for this Olympic event.