61 Athletes To Fly Team Nigeria Flag In Tokyo

by Lekan Sowande.

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Team Nigeria will depart for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in two batches with 61 athletes flying the country’s flag, says Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare.

The Minister made this disclosure on Monday while  addressing the plenary meeting with National Sports Federations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

“The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first quarter of 2020  affected the organisational structures of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Minister Dare said.

“This consequently pushed International Federations (IFs) to review their international sporting calendar and qualification pathway for athletes in their quest to participate at the Games. These challenges, no doubt were difficult to overcome, but could not stop us as a great nation in ensuring that our athletes are strongly supported and motivated to achieve this milestone.”

“I must sincerely commend each and every one of you for your commitment and for standing together in this journey. Specifically, I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his immense support in approving and ensuring that funds were released to enable our athletes attend series of qualification tournaments.”

Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) President Habu Gumel (L) with Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare (R)

“As at today, Nigeria has qualified 61 athletes across 9 Sports for the Olympics, and 22 athletes in 4 Sports for the Paralympic Games, which are: Athletics-22, Badminton-3,  Basketball-24, Canoe sprint-1, Gymnastic-1, Rowing-1, Taekwondo-1, TableTennis-1, Wrestling-1 which sums up to 61 and for Paralympic Games we have; Para Athletics-5, Para Powerlifting-10, power rowing-1, Para Table Tennis-6 summing up to 22,” Dare added.

“The recent qualification of Nigeria for the Women’s 4x100m, Women’s 4x400m and 4x400m Mixed Relays was a significant achievement for the country, while still awaiting the World Athletics (WA) to ratify the slots in a few days.”

“The Ministry in collaboration with the Nigerian Olympic Committee has scheduled a 14-day Pre-Games Training Camp (PGTC) for the athletes in Kisarazu , Japan. This move is to further expose the athletes to adequate preparations ahead of their events as well as to give them ample time to adjust to the Japanese time zone,” Dare said.

“It is also strategic to meet with COVID-19 regulations. For the Olympic Games, the first batch of the athletes are scheduled to depart for Kisarazu on 6th July, 2021 while the second batch depart on 13th July, 2021. The paralympic Teams will depart in one batch on 8th August, 2021.”

The Minister said  in order to ensure a hitch-free participation  in Tokyo, the Ministry had engaged four (4) Travel Agencies to handle flight tickets of Team Nigeria Contingents.

“As the Games are gradually approaching, I feel it would be necessary for us to finalize on our strategies towards ensuring podium success at both the Olympics and the  Paralympic Games,” Dare concluded.

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