9ja FlavourNEWSOpinionTalking PointTokyo Olympics

Okagbare blows hot over Nigerian athletes’ disqualification in Tokyo

Blames AFN leadership for unfortunate turn of events

Nigerian sprint queen Blessing Okagbare has openly criticised the leadership of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria after several unfortunate administrative deficits led to a number of ill-fated occurrences in the Team Nigeria camp at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan.

Before the competition, Nigeria’s relay team was disqualified as they failed to appear for the qualifying events because of a power tussle between the Sports Ministry and Athletics Federation. At the beginning of the Games, some of the members of the Team Nigeria contingent were unable to access the Games Village due to the failure of the Sports Ministry and Athletics Federation to register them, leaving them in limbo until they were able to complete their registration at the last minute. The final straw on the camel’s back was broken when the Athletic Integrity Unit declared that 10 of Nigeria’s athletes were disqualified before the commencement of the Games due to the failure of the Sports Ministry to submit results of three drug tests carried out on these athletes out-of-competition, as is enshrined in the World Anti-Doping Agency’s rule books. Eighteen athletes in total have been disqualified on this basis, but 10 of the eighteen are from Nigeria, reducing the Nigerian athletics contingent from 23 to 13.

Okagbare, who is one of the most senior members of the Nigerian contingent, spoke via her Twitter page, criticising the choice of business people and politicians sports administrators in the country. She cited that the athletes were made to bear the brunt of their incompetence as they had next to no interest in the welfare of the athletes in their care.

Nigeria’s team at the Olympics has underwhelmed, to say the least, with zero medals won after a week of events. Much of the nation’s hopes were placed in the now-depleted athletics team, but with what has happened in the past hours, it looks like the Sports Ministry and Athletics Federation led by Minister of Sports Sunday Dare and Tonobok Okowa have led Nigeria to a new low on the biggerst international stage.

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