The much-awaited paralympic games are set to begin as the opening ceremonies commence today.
Twenty-two athletes will be representing Team Nigeria in the Tokyo 2020 games this year.
It would be recalled that the last edition, at Rio 2016 in Brazil, was the most successful outing for Team Nigeria, which became Africa’s best team and 17th overall on the medal table with eight gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
In Tokyo, Team Nigeria Paralympians will participate in four events: Para Powerlifting, Para-Athletics, Para-Table Tennis and Para-Rowing.
The first Paralympics debut for Team Nigeria was far back Barcelona 92, with six athletes who came back with three gold medals.
Nigeria’s largest contingent to the games was in Sydney 2000 with 31 Paralympic Athletes when Team Nigeria returned home with 13 medals.
The team captain, Lucy Ejike (44) who would be featuring in her sixth Paralympics after making her debut at Sydney 2000, has promised that the contingent would surpass the record at Rio 2016.
Ejike won a medal in each of the games she has been in, winning gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2016 and silver medals in 2000 and 2012.
The 22 athletes on the team are:
Flora Ugwunwa – Athletics – F Iyiazi Njideka. – Athletics – F Lauritta Onye. – Athletics – F Nwaozu Chituru – Athletics – F Galadima Suwaibidu – Athletics – M Tijani Latifat. – Powerlifting – F Ejike Lucy. – Powerlifting – F Ibrahim Mujinat – Powerlifting – F Omolayo Bose. – Powerlifting – F Obiji Lovelyn. – Powerlifting – F Oluwafemiayo Folashade -Powerlifting- F Okpala Pauline – Powerlifting – F Ibrahim Dauda – Powerlifting – M Yakubu Adesokan – Powerlifting – M Innocent Nnamdi – Powerlifting – M Ijeoma Kingsley – Rowing – M Fairh Obazuaye – Table Tennis – F Tajudeen Agunbiade – Table Tennis – M Olufemi Alabi Olabiyi – Table Tennis – M Ahmed Koleosho – Table Tennis – M Ogunkunle Isau – Table Tennis – M Farinoye Victor – Table Tennis – M
With less than a week to the commencement of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Team Nigeria athletes have assured supporters of an impressive outing in Tokyo.
Speaking to journalists on Sunday In Abuja, the Paralympics Captain, Lucy Ejike said, “we have been training seriously to make sure we meet up with the standard we set at previous games. Everything is going on well. We are confident we will bring glory to Nigeria. We have world records, so we hope to maintain the records and create new ones”.
Speaking in a similar vein, Para Powerlifter, Nnamdi Innocent, expressed appreciation to the Sports Minister for motivating the team.
“We are grateful to the Minister for his support and encouragement, what he did for us during the lockdown will motivate us to excel in Tokyo. We have many world records and our target is to go there and make Nigeria proud,” he said.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics games will be Nigeria’s 8th consecutive appearance since her maiden appearance at Barcelona 1992.
Nigeria had her most successful outing at Rio 2016, finishing as Africa’s best team and 17th overall in the world on the medals table with eight gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
Nigeria will participate in four events at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics viz; Powerlifting, Para-Athletics, Para-Table Tennis and Para-Rowing.
The team is expected to depart for Japan this week.
Brazil’s Italo Ferreira claimed Olympic surfing’s first-ever gold medal on Tuesday, beating Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi in the final.
Ferreira, who learned to surf standing on the foam box his father sold fish from, snapped his board on the first wave and had to wait in the sea for a replacement.
But he recovered to score 15.14 to Igarashi’s 6.60 at Tsurigasaki Beach, around 100km (60 miles) east of Tokyo.
Igarashi had shocked world number one Gabriel Medina in the semi-finals, landing a stunning aerial move late in the contest to beat the Brazilian.
But the Japanese rider, whose father grew up surfing at the same beach, could not find a way past an imperious Ferreira in the final, as the 2019 world champion added the first-ever Olympics surfing gold medal to his collection.
Australia’s beat Medina to claim the bronze.
In the women’s final, American world number one Carissa Wright was set to face off against unheralded South African Bianca Buitendag for the gold.
Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki beat Caroline Marks of the US in the bronze-medal match.
The medal events — originally scheduled to take place on Wednesday — were moved forward to Tuesday to take advantage of favourable wave conditions.
France’s bid for men’s Olympic football glory got off to a nightmare start with a 4-1 defeat by Mexico on Thursday, while Richarlison scored a hat-trick as reigning champions Brazil beat Germany in a six-goal thriller.
Sylvain Ripoll’s France are looking for a first Olympic medal since winning gold in 1984, but collapsed in the second half at Tokyo Stadium.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the result but also with the balance of our play,” said former Lorient boss Ripoll.
“To compete, we would’ve needed a big performance, but that wasn’t the case.”
Mexico took the lead less than two minutes after the break through Alexis Vega, before Sebastian Cordova doubled their advantage in the 55th minute.
The 35-year-old captain Andre-Pierre Gignac, whose last game for the French senior team was the Euro 2016 final loss to Portugal, pulled one back from the penalty spot with 21 minutes remaining.
But any thoughts of a comeback were quashed as Uriel Antuna and Eduardo Aguirre netted late on for 2012 champions Mexico.
France now face a tough task to get out of Group A with a top-two finish, ahead of games against Covid-hit South Africa on Sunday and hosts Japan on July 28.
“The first thing we now have to do is digest this disappointment,” added Ripoll. “We only have two days. There’s no time to waste.”
Japan saw off South Africa, who had two players test positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, 1-0 thanks to Takefusa Kubo’s second-half strike.
Brazil, who won gold for the first time when inspired by Neymar on home soil five years ago in Rio, downed Germany 4-2 in a dramatic match which saw forward Richarlison net a first-half hat-trick.
The Everton man scored three times inside the first half an hour, but Matheus Cunha missed a penalty and Germany then threatened an unlikely second-half comeback.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Nadiem Amiri pulled one back before the hour mark, and although Maximilian Arnold was sent off shortly afterwards, substitute Ragnar Ache cut the deficit to one goal with seven minutes of the 90 left.
But it was another Leverkusen player, Paulinho, who came off the bench and put the match to bed for Brazil in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Ivory Coast also picked up three points in Group D as AC Milan’s Franck Kessie netted the match-clinching goal in a 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia.
Spain struggled in Sapporo, as a team featuring six players who reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals dominated possession but created few chances in a 0-0 draw with Egypt.
The closest they came to a goal was when Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos, who recently spent two seasons on loan at Arsenal, crashed a first-half shot against the post.
Spain, winners on home soil in 1992, next take on Australia in three days’ time before their final Group C match with Argentina.
Australia took early control in the table, as goals from Lachlan Wales and Marco Tilio saw them beat 10-man Argentina 2-0.
New Zealand made a successful start in Group B as Burnley striker Chris Wood, one of the three over-age players in the squad, secured a 1-0 victory over South Korea in Kashima with his 72nd-minute winner.
It was their first-ever win in Olympic football, having managed just one draw in each of the 2008 and 2012 tournaments.
An own goal saw Romania edge out Honduras 1-0 in the group’s other game.
The public will be urged not to line the route of the Olympic marathon over fears that crowds of fans could spread the coronavirus, Tokyo 2020 organisers said Tuesday.
With less than three weeks before the pandemic-postponed Games begin, concern is growing over a rebound in virus cases in Japan.
“In view of the current Covid-19 situation, it will be necessary to reduce the risk of infection by restricting the movement of members of the public,” organisers said in a statement about the marathon and race walk events.
“It has therefore been decided to ask the public to refrain from spectating along the course.”
The marathon was at the centre of controversy in the original build-up to the 2020 Games, when it was moved to northern Sapporo from Tokyo to avoid the capital’s punishing summer heat.
The women’s and men’s marathon finals are among the last events at this summer’s Games and will take place on August 7 and 8.
At a marathon rehearsal event in Sapporo in May, security guards stood with signs around their necks asking people to “please refrain from watching the race” to prevent infections.
That event had unfolded in a muted atmosphere, with scattered onlookers in facemasks clapping but refraining from cheering, to avoid spreading droplets.
Organisers on Tuesday vowed to work with local authorities “to ensure a safe and secure Tokyo 2020 Games for all participants and for the citizens of Sapporo and Hokkaido”.
But with Covid-19 cases on the rise and fears over the spread of new coronavirus variants, Japan’s government is this week expected to extend virus restrictions in several parts of the country.
The current measures, in place in Tokyo and Sapporo, cap spectators at sports events at 5,000 and limit the opening hours of bars and restaurants.
Japan’s Covid-19 outbreak has not been as severe as in some countries, with around 14,800 deaths, but experts say another wave could stretch medical services as the Olympics begin.
For ticketed Olympic events, Games organisers last month set a limit of 10,000 domestic fans, or half of each venue’s capacity. Overseas fans have already been barred.
But a rise in infections has forced a rethink — with Games president Seiko Hashimoto recently warning that a closed-door Olympics remains an option.
Participants have already begun arriving in Japan, with 11,000 Olympic athletes from around 200 countries set to take part.
On Monday, a Japanese newspaper reported that fans would likely be banned from the July 23 opening ceremony over virus fears, but a reduced number of VIPs and Olympic officials would be able to attend.
Fans are likely to be banned from the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony over virus fears, but a reduced number of VIPs and Olympic officials will be able to attend, a Japanese newspaper reported.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) representatives, foreign dignitaries, sponsors and others connected to the Games will be allowed into the National Stadium to watch the July 23 ceremony, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said late on Monday.
But under plans currently being discussed, fans would be locked out as organisers rethink attendance limits, as concern grows over rising virus cases in Tokyo.
The report, which cited several unnamed government sources, said organisers are working to whittle down the expected 10,000 “Olympic family” members to a level the Japanese public would find acceptable.
“Some people in government are concerned that the public won’t accept them being given special treatment,” it said.
“They’d like the number of people attending to be reduced to the hundreds.”
Games organisers last month set a limit of 10,000 domestic fans, or half of each venue’s capacity. Overseas fans have already been barred.
But a rise in infections has forced a rethink, with Games president Seiko Hashimoto recently warning that a closed-door Olympics remains an option.
The government is this week expected to extend anti-virus measures in Tokyo and elsewhere, with a decision on Olympic fans to follow.
Organisers were considering banning spectators from events in larger venues and in the evening, said the newspaper.
The announcement of the results of a ticket lottery for oversubscribed events has been pushed back to Saturday — less than two weeks before the opening ceremony.
Japan’s Covid-19 outbreak has not been as severe as in some countries, with around 14,800 deaths, but experts say another wave could stretch medical services as the Olympics begin.
The Olympic torch is due to arrive in Tokyo on Friday, but there will be no relay on public roads in the capital this weekend, organisers said, with short fan-free ceremonies planned instead.
Several legs of the torch relay, which began in March, have been taken away from public roads to prevent crowds from gathering.
2019 African Games table tennis champion, Olajide Omotayo has signed a one-year deal to join a French Pro A team, PPC Villeneuve, for the 2021/2022 season.
Omotayo spent over six years playing in the Italian Table Tennis Super League. The Nigerian who is set for a debut outing at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will join Egypt’s Omar Assar who also plies his trade in the French top league.
Announcing the signing of the 26-year-old Nigerian on its social media handle at the weekend, the club described Omotayo as a fighter who they hope would help the team to fight for the top spot in the elite French league.
The club statement reads, “Olajide Omotayo from Nigeria, 26 and ranked 92 in the world will be a formidable opponent for our competitors. Little known in France, it will be interesting to follow and his fight spirit will be a quality appreciated by the public in France.”
Omotayo will be joined by other members of the team which include French junior international Jules Cavaillé and experienced Russian star Alexey Liventsov while the team will be coached by Admir Duranspahic, who replaced departing coach Lepage Cedric.
An excited Omotayo who last played for TT Genova in Italy before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has described the move to France as a dream come true for him.
“This is a big move for me having played in Italy for over six years. Now I will have the chance to play against some of the best players as well as improve my game. It is the dream of every player to play in the top league in Europe and France is among the top three leagues in the world, I cannot wait to start playing because I know my game will improve and I will also have the opportunity to be exposed to top-class coaching in a good club,” he said.
The 2012 National Sports Festival gold medalist expressed appreciation to the management of PPC Villeneuve for the confidence to sign him and he promises to repay their trust with good performance in the league.
As the battle for a place among the athletes at the Olympic trials continues today, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has assured Nigerians of a better outing at the Olympic Games holding in July, in Tokyo Japan.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Engr. Nebeolisa Anako gave the assurance on Sunday at the Sports Complex of the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, venue of the Athletics Trials for the Olympic qualification.
According to him, the trials are part of the local camping, an initiative of the ministry to enhance performance of the athletes and also a platform to select the best athletes that will represent the country at the Games.
“So far some athletes have qualified from the trials and some records broken. With the results seen so far, combined with those from the last National festival, we are hopeful that the athletes are going to perform better than the previous Olympics,” he said.
Speaking further, the Permanent Secretary disclosed that local camping of athletes has commenced and will continue till the time of departure to Japan.
Engr. Nebeolisa stated further that there are arrangements for more camping of the athletes so as to keep them in top shape before the beginning of the games.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), has agreed to grant additional time to the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) to finish verifying the eligibility of all 4.0 and 4.5 sport class players set to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Since January 2020, when the IPC declared the IWBF non-compliant with the 2015 Athlete Classification Code, the global governing body of wheelchair basketball has been required to conduct eligibility assessments of 132 4.0 and 4.5 sport class players set to compete in Tokyo.
This exercise – the first phase of an approved action plan towards Code-compliance – has found 119 players eligible and nine non-eligible.
Four cases remain outstanding pending further information, which is why the IPC has accepted the IWBF’s request to extend the deadline for a second time from the original date of May 29, 2020.
The Chief Executive Officer of IPC, Mike Peters said: “Due to the need to gather more information on four-player cases, the IPC has agreed to grant the IWBF a second extension to the original end of May deadline.
“With such a small number of athletes still to be reviewed, no new deadline has been set by the IPC although continued progress is fully expected of the IWBF.
“The IPC will also continue to monitor the IWBF’s ongoing compliance with the approved action plan,” he said.
In addition to assessing all 4.0 and 4.5 players due to compete at Tokyo 2020, the IPC in January also requested that the IWBF ensures its own classification rules and operations align and are fully compliant with the IPC Athlete Classification Code by no later than 31 August 2021.
At the moment, IWBF is excluded from the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games programme. Failure to meet this deadline will mean that wheelchair basketball will not be readmitted into the Paris 2024 Games.
The International Olympic Committee said Sunday that postponing the 2020 Olympics is one of its options as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, but that cancellation of the Tokyo showpiece was “not on the agenda”.
The IOC has faced strong pressure to push back the Games, scheduled from July 24 to August 9, from sporting federations and athletes worried about the health risk as the COVID-19 global death tally went past 13,000 on Sunday.
IOC president Thomas Bach said a decision on when the Games take place would be made “within the next four weeks”.
“Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games,” Bach wrote in an open letter to athletes.
“We have, as indicated before, been thinking in different scenarios and are adapting them almost day by day.”
But, he added that “there are significant improvements in Japan” and he still had hopes the Games could be held on schedule, even if that would present logistical difficulties.
“A final decision about the date of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 now would still be premature,” he said.
Bach explained that the IOC was discussing its options with health authorities and stakeholders.
“We are confident that we will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks.”
He made clear that there would a Games in Tokyo at some point.
“Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody,” Bach said. “Therefore it is not on our agenda.”
– Thumbs down-
The idea of holding the Games on schedule has drawn a swelling chorus of objections.
On Sunday, nine-time Olympic track and field champion Carl Lewis, as well as the head of French athletics added their voices to the US and French swimming federations, the US and Spanish athletics federations, the Norwegian Olympic Committee and past and current athletes.
Sprinter and long jumper Lewis, who won gold at four different Olympics, told Houston television station KRIV, that he backed calls for postponement.
“I just think it’s really difficult for an athlete to prepare, to train, to keep their motivation if there’s complete uncertainty. That’s the hardest thing,” he said.
“I think a more comfortable situation would be two years and put it in the Olympic year with the Winter Olympics (Beijing 2022) and then make it kind of a celebratory Olympic year.”
World Athletics, the governing body of track and field, said they were “ready to work with the IOC and all sport on an alternative date”.
“World Athletics welcomes discussions with the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games and wrote to the IOC earlier today to relay this feedback from its Area Presidents, Council and athletes,” it said in a statement.
On Saturday, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe told AFP that the sporting world was in “uncharted territory”.
“I don’t think we should have the Olympic Games at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety,” said Coe.
US media reported on Sunday that American athletes had voted during a virtual town hall with US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) officials and given Tokyo the thumbs down.
Almost three-quarters of the 300 athletes who met online with USOPC supported delaying the Games, USA Today reported.
In all, 70 percent of the athletes supported a postponement with another 23 percent saying it would depend on the consequences, according to details supplied by a member of the USOPC Athletes Advisory Council.
– ‘Really selfish’ –
Almost a quarter wanted a decision no later than April 15, while 18 percent wanted an immediate decision.
“I feel the IOC is being really, really selfish in trying to push it,” US hammer thrower Gwen Berry said. “And there’s no need to push it.”
US swim and athletics trials to determine the nation’s two largest Olympic delegations are set for June.
“The right and responsible thing to do is to prioritise everyone’s health and safety and appropriately recognise the toll this difficult situation has, and continues to take, on our athletes and their Olympic Games preparations,” said USA Track and Field chief Max Siegel.
“For those reasons, USATF is respectfully requesting that the USOPC advocate to the IOC for the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games.”
The head of the French athletics federation said postponement was inevitable.
“Everyone agrees that the Games cannot be held on the dates planned,” Andre Giraud said.
“If the crisis is contained by the end of May, we can envisage a postponement of the Games to the autumn. But Plan C would be a six-month or one-year postponement,” he said.