Sunday Dare, Youths and Sports Minister


Blessing Oborududu
Ese Brume
Chukwuebuka Enekwechi
Sunday Dare, Sports Minister

From a Nigerian perspective, the 32nd edition of the most glamorous sports event held in Tokyo, Japan, can best be described as a monumental disaster. That’s even putting it mildly. Not necessarily from a sporting dimension, but from an administrative angle. Our contingent cuddled the headlines for every wrong reason fathomable.

It is often said that the beauty of the Olympics is in competing, rather than winning. Truth be told, our athletes gave their all to the best of their abilities and commensurate preparations. Our position on the final medals table aptly depicts the dearth of capable hands at the administrative level. That is what happens when square pegs are forced into holes of contrasting shapes.

Following the jolting news that 10 of our track and field athletes had been disqualified for not meeting the prerequisite standards, the camp got thrown into more disarray when the affected athletes hit the streets in protest over the decision of some ministry officials to withhold the Samsung phones that were gifted to every accredited athlete by the mobile phone giants. How petty can we get as a nation?

The expulsion of the 10 athletes wasn’t actually as a result of any fault of theirs. The rule stipulates a minimum requirement on athletes from “Category A” federations deemed to have the highest risk. Athletes from countries in this category must undergo at least three no-notice out of competition tests (urine and blood) and the tests must be conducted at least 3 weeks apart in the 10 months preceding a major event.

How the sports ministry and athletics federation omitted this compulsory aspect beats one’s wildest imagination. I guess the officials were more concerned about individual aggrandizement and the estacodes accruable from their voyage to Japan than the quest for national pride.

With due apologies to Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, we literally went to Tokyo to wash our dirty linens in public. The viral video of the shotputter doing laundry works on his lone jersey after qualifying for the final sent tongues wagging. This level of administrative incompetence should have no place in modern sports.

The curtains may have been drawn on Tokyo, but the windows through which this ventilation of shame and international ridicule permeated our participation at the games must be left open to probe and punitive actions. Person/persons must be held accountable for this misadventure.

Congrats to Ese Brume and Blessing Oborududu for putting us on the table with bronze and silver medals respectively. It could have been worse.


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