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PHOTOS: ‘Dreams Shattered,’ Disqualified Nigerian Athletes Protest In Tokyo

Akinola Ajibola  
Updated July 30, 2021

 

Nigerian athletes disqualified from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games hit the streets of the Japanese capital in protest on Friday.

They had prepared to represent the country in the track and field events but were declared ineligible to participate in the games.

On Wednesday, Channels Television reported that the 10 athletes were declared ineligible to compete at the games by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

 

AIU is an independent body created by World Athletics to manages all integrity issues – both doping and non-doping.

In its reaction, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) took responsibility for the lapses recorded during the process and reassured Nigerians that the nation’s performances at the Olympics would not be negatively impacted.

While participating countries continue to celebrate heroic achievements and medals in the Japanese capital, it’s a sad tale for the affected athletes would condemn what they described as the negligence by sports administrators.

Those affected are Ruth Usoro, Favour Ofili, Annette Echikunwoke, Chioma Onyekwere, Glory Patrick, Chidi Okezie, Tima Godbless, Rosemary Chukwuma, Yinka Ajayi, and Knowledge Omovoh.

 

They marched through some of the streets of Tokyo carrying placards with various inscriptions as they registered their displeasure over the situation they have found themselves in.

Some of the inscriptions read: “Why should we suffer for someone else’s negligence”, “All we wanted to do was compete”, “We are not just alternates but potential medallists”, “We are not just alternates, but potential medallists”, “Dreams shattered”, and “10 out of 23, we can’t continue this way”.

The protests by the athletes were captured in photos shared by a Facebook user, Kuti Dare Gattuso.

 

‘God Has Greater Plans For Me’

Ofili, in an emotional message, was quoted as saying she and her counterparts were punished for the unknown offence committed by some persons.

She said:

Hi everyone. It’s with utmost 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 incompetence and selfishness.

I worked really hard to qualify for the Olympics and in the end, this is the payment I got 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 demoralise 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

 

 

AIU announced that the affected Nigerians were disqualified along with eight athletes from other countries while two others were replaced prior to the submission of their entries to World Athletics.

It explained that the affected athletes, who represented some ‘Category A’ Federations, were disqualified from the final entries for the Olympics for failing to meet the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules.

AIU listed the seven identified ‘Category A’ National Federations to include Nigeria, Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine.

Nigeria was listed in ‘Category A’ at the start of 2020 after a continued period of weak domestic testing levels.

See more photos below: