Caster Semenya is among the athletes in the preparatory squad ©Getty Images

Olympic champions Caster Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk are among 43 athletes included in Athletics South Africa’s preparation squad for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The preparation squad for the rescheduled Games features 32 men and 11 women, while a further 15 sprinters are in consideration for relay teams.

"We believe that we have assembled a very strong squad and we are confident that all the athletes are capable to be part of the final team, but that will be dependent entirely on them," Athletics South Africa President Aleck Skhosana told SuperSport.

"But they will have to stay focused to achieve that as they train in their various disciplines.

"Given the current global challenge caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we encourage athletes to take advantage of every available opportunity for competition because we don’t know what the future holds in terms of the fight against this virus.

"Whether it will get stronger or whether it will be defeated, we don’t know.

"So, we urge athletes to use opportunities at club, provincial or national level to prepare themselves."

Semenya is among the most well-known athletes in the squad.

The double Olympic champion last month lost an appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court over a World Athletics ruling which means she must take testosterone-reducing medication in order to be eligible to compete.

The current rules force athletes with differences in sexual development (DSD) to take drugs to medically reduce their naturally-occurring testosterone if they want to compete in women's events ranging from 400 metres to a mile.

Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk is attempting to set up his comeback ©Getty Images
Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk is attempting to set up his comeback ©Getty Images

She had previously appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the policy, but was unsuccessful.

The ruling means Semenya is unable to defend her 800m Olympic crown at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games unless she takes medication.

Earlier this year Semenya expressed an interest in competing in the 200m at Tokyo 2020, an event not covered by the regulations.

Van Niekerk also features in the squad.

He set the 400m world record of 43.03sec when he earned Olympic gold at Rio 2016.

He competed in his first international race in more than three years last month.

Van Niekerk had been recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury picked up in 2017.

The preparatory squad also includes long jumper Luvo Manyonga and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen, who both won silver medals at Rio 2016.

Manyonga won the men’s long jump world title in 2017.

Reigning Commonwealth Games men’s 100m champion Akani Simbine has been touted as a potential medal contender next year and also is included.