NUGA Games Show That Every Part Of Nigeria Is Valuable – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday said that the Nigeria University Games Association (NUGA) has shown that every part of Nigeria is valuable.

He stated this at the Presidential Villa while receiving the games’ torch of unity, recalling the exploits of great athletes discovered at previous editions of the competition.

“Indeed, the socio-economic value of the NUGA games is not lost on us. For years, the Nigerian University Games Association has not only provided a space that allows us see the value that every part of the country has to offer, it has also provided a platform for the discovery and honing of individual sporting talent, many of whom have gone on to represent Nigeria successfully on the world stage,” the Vice President was quoted as saying via a statement issued by his spokesman, Laolu Akande.

“We encourage the athletes who will be competing this year and representing their respective universities to do so proudly and in true sportsmanship. This is only a prelude to bigger achievements and greater laurels for yourselves and for Nigeria.”

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He also recalled the achievements of some athletes discovered at the games.

“Going through Nigeria’s sporting history and almost everywhere we have excelled on the global stage, you will find athletes whose talents were nurtured in our universities and given a competitive boost by NUGA at one time or the other.

“The now legendary Nigerian goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, who we fondly remember for his role in leading the Super Eagles to victory in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, and who in his prime was considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world, was once a university athlete and a proud product of NUGA’s talent pipeline.

“Olusoji Fasoba, who won 100 meters gold, running for the Obafemi Awolowo University at NUGA many years ago, eventually went on to anchor Nigeria’s bronze medal win in the 4 x 100 meters relay race at the 2004 Olympic Games, and until recently, was the African record holder in the 100 meters.

“And, of course, there is Olabisi Afolabi, the famed NUGA alumnus from Ilorin, who helped Nigeria to a silver medal in the 4 x 400 meters at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the highlight of a very successful athletic career, which included gold at the World Junior Championships in 1994, silver at the 1999 All-Africa Games, and bronze at the 1995 All-Africa Games,” he added.

In his remarks, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, reiterated the commitment of the Ministry towards providing opportunities for young Nigerians to excel in their chosen disciplines, including sports, commending the support of the Vice President for youth and related issues.

The African Game Aiming For Olympics Recognition

In many parts of Nigeria and beyond, Ayò Olọ́pọ́n, is called different names. Photo: Facebook/National Sports Festival – Edo 2020

 

Two men, possibly in their early to mid-fifties, sat across from each other under a shaded tree. Some motorcycles are also parked metres away.  Excitement, concentration, and wit were plastered on their faces. 

They are hurdled over a wooden board whose surface is punctuated by 12 hollows – each containing a cluster of ash-coloured seeds – amid the watchful eyes of an interested audience, who would have loved to be the participants.

But for such a friendly game, the atmosphere is extremely fierce.

Johnson Adeoye, wearing a blue shirt with yellow stripes, looked up to acknowledge greetings from the small but boisterous crowd. And like a grandmaster, he dipped his hand into one of the hollows in the brownish wooden board to pick up some ball-like seeds.

In a swift anti-clockwise move, he deftly began to drop seeds in the adjoining hollows, emptying them in a frenzy as he raced to victory [8-0] against Adebayo Ademola in a cozy evening at Otutu Street in the ancient town of Ile-Ife, Osun State.

The game is Ayò Olọ́pọ́n –  as it is referred to in the Yoruba-dominated South West of Nigeria – the African board game on a quest for Olympic recognition.

In the literal sense, Ayò Olọ́pọ́n means “the game of the wooden board” in Yoruba, one of the widely spoken languages in Nigeria.

Across the country, it is known by different names. Among the Igbos, it is called Ncho, Okwe, or Nchoro, Nsa Isong and Dara among the Efiks and Hausas. In the Edo language, Ogirise is the name of the game while the Tiv people of Benue call it Teratar dar to mention a few.

Played in many parts of Africa, it is similar to the Endodoi of the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania and belongs to the family of Mancala board games.

In some West African countries like Ghana, Senegal, etc, and in the Caribbean, the strategy game is known as Oware and Wari respectively. In East Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Malawi, and some areas of DR Congo and Burundi, it is called Bao.

The different names seem to point to one thing – difficulty in singling out an ethnic group or country as the originators of the game.

READ ALSO: UNILAG Set To Host 26th NUGA Games In March 2022

The game was featured at the 20th National Sports Festival in Edo State earlier in the year. Photo: Facebook/National Sports Festival – Edo 2020

 

But in tracing its origin, a historian, Dr Akin Ogundiran, did not mince words in pinpointing where it emanated from.

It is pervasive among the Niger-Congo peoples – from the edge of the Sahara in Senegal to the rainforest of Central Africa and from the coast of West Africa to the beaches of East Africa, the historian noted.

“We can make a strong case that the game originated from the ancestors of the present Niger-Congo-speaking peoples, the largest language family in Africa,” the professor of Africana Studies, Anthropology and History at the University of North Carolina, told Channels Television.

“The game spread with the expansion of those ancestors from their savanna homeland (present-day Senegal-Mali-Mauritania boundaries) into the rainforest between 7,000 and 3,000 years ago,” he said, explaining that “it reflects advanced cognitive and quantitative skill sets about the time that many people in West Africa (proto-Niger-Congo ancestors) began to adopt agricultural subsistence, farming communities, and settled life, 7,000-5,000 years ago.

“It is a game that every country in Sub-Saharan Africa should elevate to the status of national heritage. As we know, many social innovations and even technology began with games.”

Beyond the African shores, it is played in the Caribbean – taken by enslaved Africans during the Middle Passage – where it is known as Wari and is played by millions of people.

While the historian has tried to explain the origin of the game, enthusiasts like Osun lawmaker, Babatunde Olatunji, say there are inadequate records pointing it back to Africa and fear that the continent could lose this “part of our cultural heritage”.

“I can foresee in the nearest future, we may not be too surprised to have seen history being rewritten and somebody proving to us that it does not also emanate from us,” Babatunde stated in an interview, noting that even the little research about the game was carried out by people outside the continent.

A Talent From God

Like millions who enjoy the game, Johnson, from Osun State, told Channels Television that he started playing it at a young age.

The board game has gotten him fame having won many laurels including three gold medals at the 20th National Sports Festival held recently in Edo State.

“I was 13 years old when I started playing the game. I did not learn it from anyone,” said Johnson, the first gold medalist when the game was introduced at the 11th National Sports Festival, held in Imo State in 1998.

“One day, I just called my dad and told him, ‘Let me play this game with you!’ And I defeated my dad 12-0.”

“I did not have any coach to train with. My talent is from Almighty God. Nobody trained me. In my family compound back then, they played the game.”

How It Is Played

The dream to make the game part of the Olympics will face many hurdles. Facebook/National Sports Festival – Edo 2020

 

The version of the game played by Johnson might be a popular one in Nigeria but in several nations and ethnic groups in the country, there are slight variations.

For the Yorubas, Ogundiran noted that two types of materials – a twelve-hole rectangular wooden box and 48 Ayò seeds, which are now made of marble or plastic-like seeds, are used for the game.

“Four seeds are placed in each hole. Only two people can play the game, and each player will have six holes on his/her side-24 seeds for each player. Two individuals take turns to play the game by distributing the seeds from one hole into the other holes in an anti-clockwise direction,” he explained, describing it as “what we call sowing. If there are three or fewer Ayò seeds on the opponent’s side, the player collects those.

“The players take turns to play until they exhaust the seeds, or it becomes practically impossible for one of the players to make any move. The goal of the game is to capture as many seeds of the opponent as possible. The player with the most number of seeds wins the game.”

 A ‘Central Role’

Beyond the joy of victory, the game is an integral part of the lifestyle in most communities.

In many towns and villages, it is a common sight to see people gather under shaded trees in the evenings playing it while trying to cool off after the day’s job.

At other times, the elderly converge at palm wine joints, engaging each other in the game.

Aside from adults, children and teenagers also have a thing for it. In most rural areas, kids of varying ages usually gather in village squares to prove their mettle.

It also offers more than recreational values – as most seemingly mundane things in the continent have spiritual undertones. This explains why it is an integral part of festivals in some communities. The game is one of the highlights of the Osun Osogbo Festival in Osun State where winners go home with various prizes.

“The spirituality of Ayò Olọ́pọ́n derives from its central role in our history. It connects us to the past and the deified ancestors who invented the game,” added Ogundiran, who is also the Editor-In-Chief of the African Archaeological Review.

“In another vein, Ayò Olọ́pọ́n is a game where the character (ìwà), patience (ìfarabàlẹ̀), insight (ojú-inú), and deep thought (àròjinlẹ̀) are molded. Those who excel in the game are called ọ̀ta (the knowledgeable ones), and the losers are òpè (the ignorant). The game shows how much premium the Yoruba and other African groups place on knowledge and competitiveness.”

“So, to understand [some]aspects of African social organization, recreation culture, and modalities of social interaction, the codification of work and leisure, we need to pay attention to Ayò Olọ́pọ́n,” Professor Ogundiran explained.

Olympics Dream

As with many traditional African sports – Dambe, Kokowa, and Langa, etc – the game does not have the glamour and interest generated by games like football, basketball, and tennis to name a few.

Observers believe it has not been given the recognition it deserves and may go into extinction.

“I was more concerned at some point in time because the game is no longer visible as it was before,” the Osun lawmaker, added. “I hardly see people playing Ayò Olọ́pọ́n.”

According to him, if Americans are laying claim to basketball while Europeans/Brazilians see football as their own game, nothing stops Africans from pitching their tents with it and other traditional sports.

As part of efforts to raise more consciousness about the game, he now hosts a yearly competition in the South West state and his major focus is younger people whom he noted should tap into the potentials of the board game.

“Ayò Olọ́pọ́n can be well-branded and made to be so attractive to take a fair share of the multi-billion-dollar board game industry,” he said.

With Nigeria’s unemployment rising from 27.1% to 33.3% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in mid-March 2021, he believes rebranding the board game will make it a money-spinner.

“I see it as a game that can create jobs. Can you imagine we have a league on Ayò Olọ́pọ́n! Those who come to play, we have to kit them,” the lawmaker explained. “So, people can make materials and make money. You can have caps branded as Ayò Olọ́pọ́n; your favourite teams, you can have their T-shirts; you can have their caps.”

Already, it is played in various competitions at local and international levels. At the National Sports Festival – Nigeria’s “Olympics,” it is a medal-winning sport and registered as Ayo.

But the Chief Whip of the Osun Assembly also dreams big for it.

“One of my wishes is to see the game being played in the Olympics someday,” Babatunde, who represents Ife North, further stated, hoping that it would also be “credited as a game that came from Africa; to be seen as Africa’s contribution to the world.”

For people like Babatunde who wish to see the game and other traditional sports in competitions as big as the Olympics, there are hurdles ahead.

Before a sport is approved for the quadrennial sports fiesta, it must be vetted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and there are myriads of rules set by the 99-member body.

First, the sport must be governed by an International Federation (IF).

“This is required in order to conform to the Rules of the Olympic Charter, the World Anti-Doping Code as well as the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of Manipulation of Competitions,” read a statement on the Olympics website.

“It must also be practised widely across the world and meet various criteria,” another post on the Olympics website, explained.

“After that, the IOC‘s Executive Board may recommend that a recognised sport be added to the Games programme, if the IOC Session approves it.”

The multiplicity of traditional games in Africa is also a big challenge in pushing indigenous sports like Ncho to more international competitions, the Nigerian Traditional Sports Federation, explained.

According to the federation, harmonisation of the different African indigenous games is one of the first steps among many in the quest to have these sports feature in more international competitions.

“Let us come together in Africa to agree on the sports we want to sell,” the secretary-general of the federation’s caretaker committee, Ahmed Libata, said in an interview.

“Traditional sports are practiced everywhere; they [games] are in every country and every country has their own peculiar sports.”

While some traditional sports like Langa, Kokowa, and the strategy game are predominant in many countries in Africa, he noted the same cannot be said of other games which are peculiar to certain areas.

In a bid to resolve this, he noted the federation had resorted to decentralising traditional sports competitions in the country, limiting them to areas where each traditional game is dominant.

“That is why we have to [organise] maybe Ayo competition in Ibadan; Kokowa in Kaduna; Dambe in Katsina; Langa in Gombe; Abula maybe in Delta or Bayelsa,” Libata stressed. “We have to at least try to decentralize them so that they will be easier to organize.”

“So, when we find that the athletes [for a particular traditional game] are predominant in a zone, we try to put a competition in that zone so we can bring out our talented youths,” he added.

Continuing, he said the federation and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development are adopting a grassroots approach in scouting for talents.

“I know they [talents]are everywhere. That is why we are trying to decentralise some of these sports in our zones,” the scribe said, insisting that traditional games are quite popular especially among the younger generation but need branding to make more international tournaments

“If you see some of the games that make it to the Olympics, they are just traditional games that have been packaged and branded well,” Libata stated.

“And I see some of these games [traditional games] as what can be put on the global sphere; we will package them and brand them so well.”

‘No Sponsor To Support Us’

Ayo Olopon.
Mr Johnson, and others having a great time playing the game. Photo: Facebook/Johnson Adeoye Ayo Olopon.

 

Libata’s position on branding is not the only roadblock to more traditional African sports making global tournaments. Johnson, who has played in many competitions, says Dara, as the Hausas call the board game, needs “promoters”.

He recalled that prior to the All African Games in 2003, an exhibition tournament was held for the game as part of efforts to include it in the competition but “we have not heard anything again!”

“It is painful because this Ayo game is played all over the world. It is played in Afghanistan; it is played in Turkey; they play the game in Brazil, it is played in Trinidad and Tobago.

“And there is no sponsor to support us. That is the biggest challenge we are facing now,” the player, who took part in his first major tournament in 1987, told Channels Television.

“Our Traditional Sports Federation in Nigeria is working to ensure that in the next All African Games, Ayo would be introduced. I would be happy if the game is introduced to the Olympics or Commonwealth Games because my plan is to play it at the festival (Commonwealth Games or Olympics; All African Games).

“The game needs more promoters and sponsors because the game is played all over the world. We need help to popularise the game.”

Johnson may have won many medals playing the board game but he does not enjoy the kind of fame accorded those who play other popular sports like football or basketball.

Still, he says “we are making money through the game”  he takes as a hobby and called on Africans to “show more interest in the game because it is easy to play”.

While corroborating the lack of interest in the game and other traditional sports, Ogundiran, a former lecturer, Florida International University, pinned it on what he calls a “colonial mentality.”

He faulted Africa’s mode of socialisation, wondering why youths should respect their cultural heritage if the older ones see it as nothing.

“If Ayò Olọ́pọ́n is played in schools and there are inter-class and inter-school competitions, I am sure the game will not lose its relevance. We play draft and chess; why not play a game that speaks to the deep-time African history and culture?” the lecturer wondered.

“Africans suffer from a colonial mentality. We tend to neglect what makes us human and embrace what dehumanizes us.”

‘Potential For Learning’

He is, however, not the only one to have linked the board game and other traditional sports to learning institutions.

Research has connected African indigenous games to improved cognitive, arithmetic abilities, and general problem-solving.

Dr Rebecca Bayeck, who holds dual-Ph.D. in Learning Design and Technology and Comparative International Education, reviewed five African board games while trying to see if they held any educational potential.

Her research – A Review of Five African Board Games: Is There Any Educational Potential? – was published in the Cambridge Journal of Education. She found out that playing Oware, the name [Ayo] is called in Ghana, teaches strategic thinking and arithmetic. She explained that it also teaches patience, spatial thinking, negation, and decision-making skills among others.

Findings from the study also suggested that the mechanics of the game showed that it could prove handy in biology. Just as the cell, Oware is characterised by a series of cyclical, repetitive movements guided by the mechanics of the game. The Oware mechanics, she continued, can be used in explaining the concept of the cell life cycle.

In another study, The Use of Indigenous Games in the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics, Professor Mogege Mosimege found out that African traditional games can change the teaching and learning of the subject.

“They do not only make it possible for learners to engage in activities that are enjoyable,” the lecturer wrote, “they have a great potential to help open avenues for the connection between concrete and abstract concept, between classroom environments and activities outside the classroom.”

UNILAG Set To Host 26th NUGA Games In March 2022

The game was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The University of Lagos is set to host the 26th edition of the Nigerian University Games scheduled for the 16th – 27th of March 2022.

The new date was proposed by the university and agreed to by the members of the NUGA council.

ith the hopes of hosting a memorable event, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe has assured members of the Nigeria University Games Association (NUGA) executive committee of a hitch-free cosmopolitan game that will set a trend of other hosts of university games going forward.

“We appreciate the fact that NUGA awarded us the hosting rights though we were not the only ones who showed interest, due to issues beyond our control especially in 2020 where the world was at standstill for so many months and all other unfortunate events that followed thereafter; that is the reason we have not been able to over the way we are supposed to,

Prof Ogundipe also assured the NUGA executives that infrastructure work is being done at an accelerated pace.

“I want to assure you he said, that things will be faster now based on the commitment we have from several places, what we have done is get those who are committed to getting involved with these facilities,” he said.

As regards the hosting of the 26th NUGA Games, Prof Ogundipe said the university hopes to put up what he describes as a “Lagos city games” that would create commerce and engagement across the neighboring areas of the school’s location in Akoka.

“We are bringing Lagos state in and we hope to gain adequate support for facilities, logistics, and security, and I’m sure we will get all the required support,” he added.

The NUGA president thanked the Vice Chancellor for his gracious reception of the committee members and enjoins the University to keep to its promise of putting out a NUGA games in 2022.

The University of Lagos was given the hosting rights in 2017 during the closing ceremony of the Games at the Federal University of Agriculture in Makurdi and was scheduled for 2019.

After an initial postponement to 2020, the games were once again halted due to the covid 19 pandemic that disrupted sporting activities across the globe.

England Ready To Host More Euro 2020 Games – Johnson

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he holds a remote press conference to update the nation on the post-Brexit trade agreement, inside 10 Downing Street in central London on December 24, 2020. Photo by Paul GROVER / POOL / AFP)

 

Johnson told The Sun that his government’s ambitions went further in a joint United Kingdom and Ireland candidacy to host the 2030 World Cup.

The Euros are set to be played in 12 cities across the continent from June 11, after being postponed last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The tabloid said ministers are holding talks with European football’s governing body UEFA about hosting more games due to rising cases across the continent and the slow roll out of vaccines.

Britain has been one of the nations hardest-hit by the virus but has already vaccinated 20 million people with at least one dose and plans to finish the whole population by the end of July.

Johnson’s spokesman last week dismissed talk about England hosting the whole tournament but Johnson indicated the country could take on more than just the semi-finals and final at Wembley.

“Any other matches they want hosted, we are certainly on for that!” he said. We are hosting the Euros. We are hosting the semis and the final.

“If there’s, you know, if they want any other matches that they want hosted, we’re certainly on for that but at the moment that’s where we are with UEFA.”

The Sun said finance minister Finance Rishi Sunak will announce in his Budget on Wednesday funds of £2.8 million ($3.9 million) to promote the UK and Ireland’s bid for the 2030 World Cup.

England has hosted the tournament once before in 1966 — the only time they have won the trophy — and lost out for the hosting of the 2006 edition to Germany and the 2018 finals to Russia.

“We are very, very keen to bring football home in 2030,” said Johnson. “I do think it’s the right place.

“It’s the home of football, it’s the right time. It will be an absolutely wonderful thing for the country.”

An Irish government spokesman confirmed they were keen to be part of a joint bid, and an assessment would be made.

“We look forward to further extensive engagement and collaboration as we seek to refine our hosting proposals in the coming months,” said prime minister Micheal Martin’s spokesman.

 

Tokyo Olympics Postponement Will Cost IOC ‘Several Hundred Million Dollars’ – Bach

 

The postponement to 2021 of the Olympic Games in Tokyo because of the coronavirus pandemic will cost the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “several hundred million dollars”, its president Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.

“We already know that we have to shoulder several hundred million US dollars of postponement costs,” the German wrote in a letter to the Olympic movement, warning that, while the IOC would honour its financial obligations to Tokyo, it would probably have to make cuts.

“We also need to look into and review all the services that we provide for these postponed Games,” he said.

“The IOC will continue to be responsible for its share of the operational burden and its share of the costs for these postponed Games.”

The IOC, which has approximately $1 billion (926 million euros) in reserves, took the historic decision to postpone the Games, scheduled to open on July 24, until July 23 to August 8, 2021.

If the coronavirus pandemic is not brought under control within a year, the Games cannot be postponed again and will be cancelled, the head of the organising committee (COJO) Yoshiro Mori warned on Tuesday.

A task force, which brings together the IOC and various partners, including COJO, “has established the priorities and management strategies to make these postponed Olympic Games feasible and successful”, Bach said.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Germany Extends Foreign Travel Warning To Mid-June

These include creating “a safe environment with regard to health for all participants”.

“At this moment, nobody knows what the realities of the post-coronavirus world will look like,” he said. “What is clear, however, is that probably none of us will be able to sustain every single initiative or event that we were planning before this crisis hit.”

He added that the IOC should also view the crisis as an opportunity.

“We can fairly assume that, in the post-coronavirus society, public health will play a much more important role. Sport and physical activity make a great contribution to health,” he wrote.

Bach also said the Olympic movement should consider its relationship with esports in light of social distancing.

“Whilst maintaining our principles by respecting the red line, with regard to the Olympic values, we encourage all our stakeholders even more urgently to ‘consider how to govern electronic and virtual forms of their sport and explore opportunities with game publishers’,” he said.

AFP

 

IOC Postpones Tokyo Olympics Till Next Year

 

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to no later than the summer of 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, the International Olympic Committee announced Tuesday.

The Games were scheduled for July 24-August 9, but after telephone discussions between IOC president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a historic joint decision was taken for the first postponement of an Olympics in peacetime.

Abe had earlier said Bach was in “100 percent agreement” when Japan asked the IOC to push back the Games.

The IOC had come under pressure in recent days to postpone the world’s biggest sporting event, with teams, athletes and sports bodies all calling for a delay.

READ ALSO: IOC Urged To Make Quick Olympic Decision As US Backs Postponement 

The postponement comes after top federations announced they would pull out of the Tokyo Games, the highest-profile event to be affected by a virus that has decimated the sporting calendar.

Around 1.7 billion people across the world are in lockdown to prevent the further spread of a virus which according to an AFP tally has killed over 16,200 people and infected more than 377,000.

AFP

Philippines Bid To Extend SEA Games Basketball Reign

 

The Philippines men’s basketball team will shoot for their 13th consecutive title when they take on Thailand in the last full day of action at the Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday.

A home crowd at the MOA Arena will be expecting their team to add to the Philippines’ 140 gold medals — already their best ever — and improve on the team’s run of 17 wins in 19 basketball events since 1977.

Tuesday is the last major day of competition at the SEA Games which has seen thousands of athletes from 11 countries compete in a record 56 sports in venues across Clark, Manila and Subic.

After a rocky start with organisational gaffes, a presidential apology and deadly Typhoon Kammuri forcing cancellations, the biggest-ever SEA Games is close to the finish line, with just beach handball and the closing ceremony taking place on Wednesday.

Indonesia take on Vietnam at Manila’s Rizal Memorial Stadium for the men’s football title on Tuesday night, and the host nation also face Indonesia in the men’s volleyball final.

In the final night of athletics at the new, 20,000-seat stadium in New Clark City, golds will be decided in several events including women’s shot put, men’s triple jump, decathlon and 4x400m relays.

eSports, which is being contested for the first time at an Olympic-recognised multi-sport competition, will crown champions in Starcraft II and Tekken 7.

Earlier, it was a one-two for Vietnam in the men’s open water 10km swimming event in Subic, as Tran Tan Trieu beat Nguyen Huy Hoang by two minutes in a time of 1hr 53 mins 31 secs.

AFP

India Threatens To Boycott Commonwealth Games

Indian flag

 

The Commonwealth Games Federation Sunday pledged to hold talks with India after its Olympic body threatened a boycott of the 2022 event in Birmingham over the exclusion of shooting.

India topped the table for shooting at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia, taking home 16 medals including seven gold for a total tally of 66 medals — the third-best performing nation.

Shooting and archery were last month nominated by the Birmingham organising committee as events to be dropped from the 2022 Games programme, and for women’s T20 cricket, beach volleyball and para-table tennis to be included. The decision has to be ratified by Commonwealth Games Federation members.

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The Indian Olympic Association wrote to the government noting that if shooting events were removed, the country’s medal haul would take a big hit.

“The impression that will go down is of bad performance because (the) overall number of total medals may come down along with the overall ranking based on medals won,” the association said in a letter to India’s Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju.

“We want to express our protest by not taking part in 2022 CWG Games in UK.”

The association said it would like to hold talks with Rijiju.

In the letter, president Narinder Dhruv Batra added his organisation would not attend the Commonwealth Games Congress to be held in Rwanda in early September.

It was also withdrawing its two candidates for elections to be held there.

In response, the Commonwealth Games Federation said in a statement to AFP on Sunday that “we absolutely want India to participate wholeheartedly in Birmingham 2022”.

“We… look forward to meeting our colleagues in India over the coming months to discuss their concerns and future ambitions,” the statement said.

AFP

Sampdoria, Genoa’s Serie A Games Postponed After Bridge Collapse

Rescuers scour through the rubble and wreckage after a giant motorway bridge collapsed earlier in Genoa on August 14, 2018. ANDREA LEONI / AFP

 

Italian football authorities on Thursday agreed to postpone Serie A games involving Sampdoria and Genoa this weekend following the bridge collapse in the port city which killed dozens.

Both Genoa clubs had requested that their opening games of the season be pushed back with Sampdoria due to host Fiorentina and Genoa playing at AC Milan on Sunday

“The President of the Lega Serie A, given the requests for postponement of their matches scheduled for Sunday, August 19 at 20.30 on the part of the clubs Sampdoria and Genoa as result of the tragedy which hit Genoa, and having received the assent of both Fiorentina and Milan, has decided on the postponement of the Sampdoria-Fiorentina and Milan-Genoa matches,” Lega Serie A said in a statement.

AFP

Cameroon Athletes Vanish From Commonwealth Games

Clementine Meukeugni Noumbissi of Cameroon celebrates on the way to winning the bronze medal in the women’s 90kg weightlifting final at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on April 9, 2018. Photo Credit: WILLIAM WEST / AFP

 

A total of eight athletes from conflict-hit Cameroon are now missing from the Commonwealth Games in Australia, team officials said Wednesday.

Three weightlifters and two boxers were initially reported to Australian police after not being seen since Tuesday, triggering suspicion they had fled with no intention of returning to Cameroon.

Cameroon press attache Simon Molombe told AFP the number of missing athletes had risen to eight — one third of the country’s 24-strong team.

“It came as a complete surprise,” he said. “We have no idea where they are. The matter is in the hands of the police.

“There were no worries this kind of thing might happen,” he insisted. “We continue to cooperate with the police.”

Australian Border Force were searching for weightlifters Olivier Matam Matam, Arcangeline Fouodji and Petit David Minkoumba and boxers Ndzie Tchoyi and Simplice Fotsala after they apparently fled.

Three more boxers have since vanished, sparking an Australian Border Force manhunt.

Cameroon team manager Victor Agbor Nso told local media he had been in contact with the police.

Commonwealth Games organisers called for competitors to respect the law, mindful of the fact that more than 100 athletes overstayed their visas at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“We would appreciate them sticking within the law, enjoying themselves, but sticking within the law,” organising committee boss Peter Beattie told reporters.

“That includes Cameroon and any other athletes. And if they are thinking of doing anything other, I would encourage them not to.”

Before the Games opened on April 4, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned that athletes would be closely monitored to ensure they did not overstay their visas and that they returned home after competition ended.

“It’s obviously disappointing that some athletes who have come to compete, didn’t compete as scheduled,” said Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive David Grevemberg.

“It’s important to remember that these athletes are guests here in Australia at this time, they are still within their visas, they have a right to travel freely,” he added.

“But this is obviously an issue that Team Cameroon is monitoring very, very closely.

“Until it becomes a real issue in terms of visas and so forth we would obviously have to take that very seriously.”

Cameroon, in central Africa, is suffering from civil unrest after a military crackdown on English-speaking separatists.

AFP

Rio 2016: Buhari Commends Nigeria’s Paralympic Team

Paralympics-Team-NigeriaPresident Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Team Nigeria for an outstanding performance at the Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

President Buhari commended the athletes for doing the country proud by winning 12 medals and setting new records, which made them the top-performing African team at the 2016 Games.

The President acknowledged the resilient spirit of the Nigerian Paralympic athletes, who were able to excel in the face of adversity.

He applauded the athletes for their tenacity, focus and determination, which has brought glory to the country.

The President also expressed gratitude to all the officials and trainers of the Paralympic athletes, who made sacrifices and persevered to fly the country’s colours.

Hundreds of Nigerians turned out at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja to welcome the first batch of Rio 2016 Paralympics athletes who returned to Nigeria on Sunday.

Angry Birds ‘Star Wars’ to debut on Windows 8

Rovio Entertainment has just announced a new Angry Birds version called Star Wars, but what’s more interesting for all Microsoft fans is that the new game will also be available on Windows 8 platforms.

Angry Birds Star Wars will thus be released in November on a record number of platforms, including iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle Fire, Mac, PC, Windows Phone and Windows 8.

The collaboration between Rovio Entertainment and Lucasfilm Ltd. will allow Windows 8 users to take full advantage of the new operating system’s touch features, such as swiping and pinching.

“This is the best Angry Birds game we’ve ever done. It’s the best parts of Angry Birds with all new cutting-edge gameplay set in in a galaxy far, far away,” said Peter Vesterbacka, the Mighty Eagle and CMO of Rovio.