Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Sunday Dare has apologised to athletes representing the nation at the Tokyo2020 Olympics after they were disqualified from contesting due to negligence.
The athletes Ruth Usoro, Favour Ofili, Annette Echikunwoke, Chioma Onyekwere, Glory Patrick, Chidi Okezie, Tima Godbless, Rosemary Chukwuma, Yinka Ajayi and Knowledge Omovoh were disqualified for failing to conduct the mandatory three out-of-competition tests before the Olympics.
The athletes protested in the streets of Tokyo on Friday after the Athletics Integrity Unit disqualified them.
In a press statement by the Federal Ministry of Sports, titled, ‘Statement: Ministry wades to stem crisis’, on Friday, he promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding their disqualified.
The statement read in part, “The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has stepped in to stem the further crisis by addressing the issues that have arisen concerning Team Nigeria athletes.
“The Ministry is looking into some of the issues raised by the athletes and they are being addressed as quickly as possible.
“The Honourable Minister on Thursday morning in a meeting spoke directly with the 10 track and field athletes who will not be competing and assured them of their welfare. He apologized to them for the unfortunate development that led to their exclusion and promised that it would be fully investigated.”
The statement also quoted the Director, Federation of Elites Athletes Department, Dr Simon Ebhojiaye, as saying that “the Ministry is abreast of the situation on the ground and addressing them. Payment of various allowances commenced last week and it’s ongoing.”
The athletes had earlier taken to social media to bemoan their fate and call out the Sports Ministry for not doing the needful before the Olympics.
Annette Echikunwoke wrote “On my 25th birthday, I was officially informed that I cannot compete at the Tokyo 2020ne Olympics due to the negligence of the federation I was set to compete for.
I can’t even begin to explain how heartbroken I am. It honestly feels like a fever dream. To think of all the hours of throwing sessions, hundreds of hard lifts, all the moments when my body aches in pain and reminding myself “it’ll be worth it”, just to keep pushing on, sacrificing time with loved ones…and all I’m left with is this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. This has been the most mentally and emotionally exhausting time of my life.
TO BE CLEAR: The African Federation of Nigeria (AFN) did not go through the processes to set up proper testing for us athletes. They left us in the dark about this whole drug testing issue until the last minute where we were left helpless. We cannot let anything like this happen again to athletes, devastating dreams and crushing opportunities.
In all of this, I’m still trusting Him who brought me to this point in the first place. I don’t understand divinely why this happened, but I do know all things work for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. I know God has called me to do what I’m doing, not just for me, but for the glory of His Kingdom.
To my teammates and friends competing, I’m rooting for you heavy, I love you, thank you for your support”
Favour Ofili wrote, “Hi everyone. Is with outmost disappointment I share the news that I won’t be competing at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic game after coming this far.
Firstly, I give God Almighty all the thanks for the journey thus far and all my accomplishments this season prior to the Olympics. Thanks to my family all my fans and all those that intercede for me in their prayers.
I feel it’s right that everyone out there knows the truth. I was punished for the crime committed by those who are supposed to be looking out for me because of the incompetence and selfishness.
I worked really hard to qualify for the Olympics and at the end this is the payment I get In return, ineligible to compete.
I am a product of grace and God always got my back. #Though_Sorrow_May_Come_at_Night. #Joy_Will_Definitely_Come_in_the_Morning.
Y’all Negligence can’t demoralize me for I know God has greater plans for me.
Forgiveness is of the Lord. I pray God gives me the grace and enablement to do so ASAP.
Thanks everyone and God bless ”