My N50 Billion Olympic Deal
OpenLife Nigeria reports that following the somewhat abysmal outing by Nigerian representatives in the ongoing 2021 Olympics in Japan, code-named Tokyo 2021, there are revealing insights why Nigeria’s Olympic records since 1996 have been unimpressive.
The 2021 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXXII Olympiad and branded as Tokyo 2021, is an international multi-sport event being held from 23 July to 8 August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan, with some preliminary events that began on 21 July.
For Nigeria, it has been a session of disqualification at the Tokyo games.
Nigerian athlete Chioma Onyekwere, who had trained for years to hone her discus skills, has this to say about her disqualification.
“This is supposed to be one of the happiest moments of my life,” she said.
The reason, according to official information, is because Nigerian athletic officials hadn’t conducted enough drug tests over the past several months and Onyekwere, including nine other Nigerians, unexpectedly found themselves disqualified during the week.
“I am beyond heartbroken,” Onyekwere said. “This feels like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from.”
Just on Friday, the 10 disqualified Nigerian track and field athletes took to the streets of the Olympic Village to protest the decision.
“All we wanted to do is complete,” read a handwritten sign on cardboard.
“Dreams shattered,” another sign said.
“Athletes do not schedule their own test,” Onyekwere said. “It is up to our organization to have a robust test plan for us.”
Nigeria wasn’t the only country that failed to meet requirements, but it was by far the most impacted, with 10 of its 23 athletes disqualified.
Also, on Saturday, the Athletics Integrity Unit suspended Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare after she tested positive for human growth hormone. She had been scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m that evening.
Speaking on the discouraging news from Japan on Monday, Bolaji Abdullahi, 52, former ThisDay Newspaper columnist and Minister of Sports said ill-preparedness is the reason Nigeria’s performance has been awkward.
The former Honourable Minister of Sports Development under President Goodluck Jonathan noted that he observed the cracks in Nigeria’s sports industry when he led the country to the 2012 London Olympics.
“It is the failure of the system. The system has to be overhauled.
“The essence of funding federation more than athletes is wrong. It has not helped the country. Athletes should be funded directly,” he advised.
Speaking further, Bolaji disclosed that in 2012, he requested N50 billion to kick start preparations for future Olympics including the Tokyo 2021.
He explained that the money would have been sourced from a lottery and other channels but the government, he stated, abandoned the idea. China is currently leading in the medal table followed by United States, Japan, Australia and Switzerland.