March 30 - Applications from various sports associations to represent Oman in four international multi-sporting events to be held later this year are being "seriously" considered by the Oman Olympic Committee (OOC).
Oman has already confirmed it will compete at the four events, consisting of the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing from August 16, the Asian Games in Incheon from September 19, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Beach Games from October 20 in Qatar and the Asian Beach Games in Phuket from November 14.
Sheikh Saif also confirmed to the Times of Oman that a decision is expected to be made by May at the latest.
"Since the dates for these major events are fast approaching, we need to ensure that these decisions are taken quickly and in a transparent manner," he explained.
The OOC was set up in 1982 and the country has competed at all eight Summer Olympic Games since, although they are yet to win a medal.
A team of four athletes from Oman attended the London 2012 Games, consisting of three participants in athletics as well as Flagbearer Ahmed Al-Hatmi, who finished in 19th position in double trap shooting qualification.
Since then, the OOC has set up a number of committees in order to boost its performances and improve the organisation of sport in the country.
The Planning and Follow-up Committee is one of these and is said to play a vital role in assessing the performance of associations and their activities as well as in recommending which individuals and teams are suited to represent the country.
This represents a change from the previous system where athletes were nominated by the respective associations.
Sheikh Saif, who is also head of the Oman Athletics Association, explained how the Committee is creating a road-map to help the associations, which is due to come into force next year.
"Our idea is to have plans for these associations starting from next year," he said.
"Basically, we will create a complete plan for the various events that they will be taking part in.
"That also includes the Olympic Games.
"This is a long-term plan and it will certainly help our national teams taking part in these international events."
He also outlined the good work being undertaken by the Women's Sports Committee which is aiming to facilitate more female participation in these international events.
This follows 100 metres sprinter Buthaina Yaqoubi becoming the first female athlete to represent Oman at an Olympic Games when she finished in fifth place in her heat at Beijing 2008.
"The Women Sports Committee is doing an exceptional job but they will have a major role in the coming months, helping the OOC to form a national women's team," he outlined.
"I am sure it will mark a new era."
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