IOC President Declares Tokyo Olympics Closed

President of the Tokyo Organising Commitee Seiko Hashimoto (R) delivers a speech, next to President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach, during the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on August 8, 2021. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP)

 

The Tokyo 2020 Games were declared closed by IOC chief Thomas Bach on Sunday, ending the “most challenging Olympic journey” after a year’s pandemic delay and threats of cancellation.

Bach called them “unprecedented Olympic Games” as he addressed the 68,000-seat Olympic Stadium, which was bereft of fans as Japan battles to contain a record coronavirus outbreak.

“In these difficult times we are all living through, you give the world the most precious of gifts: hope,” the International Olympic Committee president told athletes at the ceremony.

“And now I have to mark the end of this most challenging Olympic journey to Tokyo: I declare the Games of the 32nd Olympiad closed,” he added.

It marked a low-key end to an extraordinary Olympics that have mostly played out in empty venues with only athletes, team officials and media present.

Athletes have lived in strict biosecure conditions with social distancing at the Olympic Village and instructions to wear masks unless eating, sleeping, training or competing.

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Bach has described how the IOC considered cancelling the Olympics and claiming the costs on its insurance policy but said officials ploughed ahead with holding the Games “for the athletes”.

“Some were already speaking of ‘Ghost Games’,” he told an IOC session earlier on Sunday.

“What we have seen here is that on the contrary the athletes have brought soul to the Olympic Games.”

– ‘Our athletes moved people’ –

On Sunday, the climax of the biggest sports event since the pandemic, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge won the men’s marathon and the USA edged China at the top of the medals table.

The United States scored victories in volleyball, track cycling and basketball to top the tally with 39 gold medals, just one ahead of China.

The Olympics were plagued by low Japanese support as they went ahead with Tokyo and other regions under a state of emergency and with infections multiplying to new highs.

But Japan’s record haul of 27 golds to finish third on the table has won hearts. Britain were fourth with 22 and the Russian Olympic Committee, the team for Russian athletes after their country was banned for systematic doping, were fifth with 20.

“We believe our athletes’ earnest spirit and all-out performance moved people,” said Tsuyoshi Fukui, chef de mission for the Japanese team.

A succession of big names have failed to perform in Japan, where new sports skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and karate have brought young new stars to the fore.

But marathon world record holder Kipchoge showed his class, kicking in the closing stages and clocking 2hr 08min 38sec to retain the title he won in 2016.

“I know there were a lot of people against holding this Olympics due to the coronavirus,” said a flag-waving, 47-year-old fan on the marathon route who gave his name as Tsujita.

“But I am glad it took place. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone.”

The marathon, moved north to Sapporo to avoid Tokyo’s summer heat, was one of the few events to allow spectators.

– Trans athletes, ‘twisties’ –

Fears of a major outbreak among the mostly vaccinated Olympic athletes and officials proved unfounded and 430 cases were picked up during the Games, including 32 in the Olympic Village.

But the virus has lurked as an ever-present threat. Victory celebrations were muted, with lonely laps of honour. But the athletes’ emotions were on full view.

Superstar gymnast Simone Biles provided the most jaw-dropping moment when she abruptly pulled out of competition over a bout of the “twisties”, a disorientating mental block.

Biles, widely acknowledged as the greatest gymnast in history, recovered sufficiently to claim a redemptive bronze medal in her final event, the beam.

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand became the first openly transgender woman to compete at the Games and Canada’s Quinn became the first openly transgender Olympic medallist, with gold in the women’s football.

In other highlights, the US men’s team won their fourth consecutive men’s basketball crown, US swimmer Caeleb Dressel assumed the mantle of Michael Phelps with five gold medals in the pool and Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah achieved a sprint double on the track.

Among the final events on Sunday, Jason Kenny claimed the men’s keirin to become the first Briton to win seven Olympic titles.

The Americans started the day two golds behind China but the women’s basketball and volleyball titles and US track cyclist Jennifer Valente’s omnium victory put them top of the table.

The Olympic flag was passed to 2024 hosts Paris at the ceremony. But the Olympic circus will reconvene in just six months when Beijing, faced with boycott threats and a renewed coronavirus emergency, holds the Winter Games in February.

Tokyo Olympics: FG Triples Prize Money For Oborodudu, Brume, Medallists

A combination of file photos of Olympic medallists, Blessing Oborududu and Ese Brume.

 

Nigerian authorities have tripled the prize money award for medallists at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Director of Federation and Elite Athletes Department FEAD at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Dr Simon Ebohdjaiye, announced this on Tuesday in Tokyo after Wrestler Blessing Oborodudu won Team Nigeria’s second medal of the games.

He explained that the gesture was in appreciation of the impressive and historic performances put up by the athletes.

“The gesture is to drive home the point that the Federal Government rewards superlative efforts,” said the director who praised the athletes for their massive exploits in Tokyo.

He added, “Gold medallist will now be rewarded with $15,000 while silver and bronze medal winners will each get $10,000 and S7,500 respectively.

“The earlier award is $5,000 for gold, $3,000 for silver and $2,000 for bronze.”

Oborodudu who made history as the first Nigerian wrestler – man or woman – to win an Olympic medal courtesy of the silver medal she won in the women’s 68kg freestyle would get $10,000.

Long jumper, Ese Brume, who officially won Nigeria’s first medal at the games – a bronze – would also get $7,500 as a reward.

Her medal was the first to be won in track and field since 2008 at the Beijing Olympics where Blessing Okagbare and the women’s 4x100m relay team won a silver medal each.

There are still three Nigerians left in the wrestling event led by world number one in her category, Odunayo Adekuruoye.

Also within the medal range is Chukwuebuka Enekwechi who will be competing in the men’s Shot Put final on Thursday.

Tokyo Olympics: Oborududu, Brume Give Nigerians Reasons To Cheer With Two Medals

By Akinola Ajibola

 

Nigeria's Blessing Oborududu reacts after winning against Mongolia's Battsetseg Soronzonbold in their women's freestyle 68kg wrestling semi-final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo on August 2, 2021. Jack GUEZ / AFP
Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu reacts after winning against Mongolia’s Battsetseg Soronzonbold in their women’s freestyle 68kg wrestling semi-final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo on August 2, 2021. Jack GUEZ / AFP

 

Nigerian duo Blessing Oborududu and Ese Brume gave their fellow compatriots back home some reasons to cheer as they hope for more medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan.

This followed a week of bad news for Team Nigeria ranging from the declaration of 10 athletes as ineligible to participate in the games, to the suspension of Olympic medallist, Blessing Okagbare, among others.

Amid the fears of shattered dreams at the Olympics, Oborududu revived the hopes for Nigerians following a brilliant performance in the semi-final of the women’s freestyle 68kg wrestling.

Paired with Battsetseg Soronzonbold, the 32-year-old beat her Mongolian opponent on Monday to reach the next round and guarantee Nigeria its first medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

She later went on to face Stock Mensah Tamyra Marianna of the United States of America to jostle for the gold medal in that category in a keenly-watched final.

Oborududu, however, lost 4-1 to the American.

Nigeria's Blessing Oborududu (blue) wrestles Mongolia's Battsetseg Soronzonbold in their women's freestyle 68kg wrestling semi-final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo on August 2, 2021. Jack GUEZ / AFP
Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu (blue) wrestles Mongolia’s Battsetseg Soronzonbold in their women’s freestyle 68kg wrestling semi-final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo on August 2, 2021. Jack GUEZ / AFP

 

25-Year Long Jump Record Crushed

But the defeat was not enough to deter the 10-time African champion from being proud of her achievement after becoming the world’s number two woman wrestler.

She also made history on Tuesday as the first wrestler to win an Olympic medal representing Nigeria at the Olympics.

The Olympian won a silver medal – the second for her country after Brume who made the country proud earlier by winning a bronze medal in the women’s long jump category.

Brume leaped a best jump of 6.97m behind Germany’s Malaika Mihambo and Brittney Reese of the United States of America who claimed the gold and silver medals respectively.

The 25-year-old Nigerian had won bronze at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and later jumped a distance of 7.17m at the Chule Vista Festival in California in May.

Nigeria's Ese Brume competes in the women's long jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Javier SORIANO / AFP
Nigeria’s Ese Brume competes in the women’s long jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Javier SORIANO / AFP

 

By this time, she had crushed Chioma Ajunwa’s 25-year long jump record of 7.12m which won her a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Brume was also the only Nigerian athlete who reached the final of her event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil where she finished fifth.

Apart from the brilliant performances from Oborududu and Brume, Nigerians are hoping for more medals as second-seed Odunayo Adekuoroye begins her quest for an Olympic medal in the 57kg weight category at the ongoing games.

Also within the medal range is Chukwuebuka Enekwechi who will be competing in the men’s Shot Put final.

 

More Money For Medallists

Meanwhile, praises have been pouring in for Oborududu and Brume from various individuals and groups – including Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.

“On behalf of the government and people of Delta, I congratulate our daughter and Nigerian wrestler, Blessing Oborududu, for winning a silver medal in the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“Deltans and Nigerians are very proud of this great achievement,” the governor said of the feat recorded by the wrestler.

Nigeria's Ese Brume reacts as she competes in the women's long jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Javier SORIANO / AFP
Nigeria’s Ese Brume reacts as she competes in the women’s long jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Javier SORIANO / AFP

 

He also commended Brume whom he said he called on Monday before her athletics event to bring home Nigeria’s first medal at the Olympics.

“She did! I am sure that I spoke on behalf of all Deltans and Nigerians when I said that we are all extremely proud of her for bringing home Nigeria’s first Olympics track and field medal since 2008.

“Well done Ese!” he concluded.

As a way to motivate the athletes, Nigerian authorities announced that medallists at the ongoing games would be paid triple of their prize money.

A senior official of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Simon Ebohdjaiye, explained that the move was to appreciate the impressive and historic performances put up by the athletes.

“Gold medallist will now be rewarded with $15,000 while silver and bronze medal winners will each get  $10,000 and S7,500 respectively,” he said

“The earlier award is $5,000 for gold, $3,000 for silver, and $2,000 for bronze. The gesture is to drive home the point that the Federal Government rewards superlative efforts.”

Tokyo Olympics: Amusan, Brume Book Final Spots

Oluwatobiloaba Amusan

 

Team Nigeria’s hurdler, Oluwatobiloaba Amusan, finished in a time of 12.62 seconds to win the women’s semi-final 1 race to qualify for the final of the women’s 100m hurdles event

Amusan also broke a 21-year old jinx to become the first Nigerian to make the final of the event since Glory Alozie did it at the Sydney 2000 games and later switch nationality to Spain.

The Nigerian won Heat 3 of Women’s Hurdles with a time of 12.72 seconds to qualify for the semi-final and improved the timing on Sunday ahead of the final showdown. The 24-year-old has been consistent, she’s been fast and with her current form at the Olympics, she is definitely a top medal contender.

In the women’s Long jump event, Nigeria’s Ese Brume also secured her place in the final with a 6.76 meters lead she did in her third attempt.

Ese Brume

 

Brume finished in joint sixth position out of the 12 finalists to seal automatic qualification. Serbia’s Spanovic Ivana leapt the longest distance of 7.00m to finish first overall of the day.

The current African record holder will compete against the likes of reigning WAC gold medalist from Germany Malaika Mihambo, America’s duo of Brittney Reese and Tara Davis and Malone Ellen Chantel of British Virgin Island in Tuesday’s final.

Tokyo Olympics: New Zealand Beat France To Win Women’s Rugby Sevens Gold

New Zealand’s Gayle Broughton (R) scores a try despite a tackle by France’s Jade Ulutule in the women’s final rugby sevens match between New Zealand and France during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo on July 31, 2021.  Greg Baker / AFP.

 

New Zealand have beaten France 26 – 12 to win the Women’s Olympic rugby sevens gold medal at the Tokyo Stadium.

The top seeds finally achieved their Olympic dream on Saturday after a disappointing experience at the Rio 2016 games.

Losing the gold medal match to Australia five years ago, the Black Ferns Sevens had spoken about their desire to go on better in Tokyo, and captain Sarah Hirini helped give them the ideal start as she offloaded to Michaela Blyde who scored the first try of the final.

Gayle Broughton produced a stunning finish in the left corner before Stacey Fluhler went over in the final minute of the first half to give New Zealand a 19-5 lead at the break.

Anne-Cecile Ciofani scored her seventh try of the tournament to draw France within seven points early in the second half, but Tyla Nathan-Wong went over to make sure of the gold medal for New Zealand.

New Zealand captain Hirini described the moment as special, saying “I think back to everything we have had to do to get to this moment, all the people back home who helped us, players who missed out but also trained hard.”

France’s Jade Ulutule (L) and New Zealand’s Gayle Broughton tumble in the women’s final rugby sevens match between New Zealand and France during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo on July 31, 2021. Greg Baker / AFP.

 

“Everything people went through to win this, it is pretty crazy and something you look at your teammates and think, we finally did it for New Zealand.

“We are the best team in the world, we’ve got the best players in the world, and when you look around at that group, it is just, do your job and everything will happen. It did in that final,” she added.

 

Maybe Next Time

Despite the defeat, France can be proud of their silver-winning performance. The French team qualified for the Games through the World Rugby Sevens Repechage last month and their place on the podium will boost interest in rugby sevens ahead of the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

France captain Fanny Horta confirmed they have good reasons to be proud of their achievement, saying, “You need to be able to congratulate yourselves if you are on the podium at the Olympic Games, irrespective of the medal. I am sure with this medal, the desire for revenge will be great.”

“I think it has been a beautiful story and hopefully it continues. This is the first medal France has won in sevens and I hope this gives young girls the desire to start playing rugby and to get to the Olympics. Maybe next time we can win the final.”

Following the medal ceremony, the New Zealand players laid down their gold medals and performed a spine-tingling haka on the Tokyo Stadium pitch to bring down the curtain on a superb six days of Olympic rugby sevens action that has showcased the very best of the sport, which was making its second appearance on the Olympic programme.

Olympics: Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan Qualifies For Women’s 100m Hurdles Semis

 

Nigerian athlete, Tobi Amusan, has qualified for the semi-finals of the Women’s 100m Hurdles at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

The 24-year-old advanced to the next round of the competition on Saturday morning after winning Round 1 (Heat 3), running from lane four.

She crossed the finish line at 12.72s ahead of Jamaica’s Thompson Yanique who timed 12.74s and Skrzyszowska Pia of Poland who ran a personal best of 12.75s to place third in the heat.

 

Others athletes in the heat included Charlton Devynne from Bahamas (12.84), Finland’s Korte Annimari (13.06), Koala Marthe of Burkina Faso (13.11), and Japanese representative Aoki Masumi (13.59).

However, Pesiridou Elisavet from Greece who would have complete the list of eight athletes in the heat did not finish the race.

 

Amusan had lost out at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in the hunt for a medal as she finished fourth.

But she has been improving on her performance since then.

D’Tigers Suffer Another Disappointing Defeat At Tokyo Olympics

Nigeria’s top performer shoots a three-pointer in the final group B match against Italy. Photo: @NigeriaBasket

 

D’Tigers power forward, Chimezie Metu, scored an impressive 22 points but his effort was not good enough to stop Nigeria from recording another defeat in the men’s basketball event of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Nigeria lost 71-80 to Italy in the final group B match at the Saitama Super Arena.

The result means Italy will be back to the Olympic quarter-finals, making it the fifth consecutive Olympics appearance for the Italians in the last 8.

Italy started the game well, winning the first quarter 29-17 points. Coach Mike Brown re-strategised and made a rejuvenated return to winning the second and third quarters.

After the third quarter, Nigeria had a 63-56 lead before everything went wrong for the D’Tigers in the fourth quarter.

 

Nigeria’s Jahlil Okafor goes to the basket past Italy’s Amedeo Tessitori (C) in the men’s preliminary round group B basketball match between Italy and Nigeria during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)
Nigeria’s Ike Nwamu dribbles the ball past Italy’s Alessandro Pajola (R) in the men’s preliminary round group B basketball match between Italy and Nigeria during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)

 

For almost seven minutes, the Nigerian side failed to score and left open spaces for the Italians and failed to convert the little chances they struggled to create.

On the other hand, Nicolo Melli scored 15 points, Nico Mannion had 14, Achille Polonara added 13, while Simone Fontecchio scored 12 for Italy.

Italy’s Danilo Gallinari shields Nigeria’s Jahill Okafor in the final group B match at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan. Photo: @NigeriaBasket

 

The European team capitalised on a 14-0 lead they built in the fourth quarter to hold on till the end of the game. They will confirm their position (first or second) on the group standings after the game between Germany and Australia.

The Italians won silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics and will be hoping to improve on that performance in Tokyo.

 

Nigeria’s Chimezie Metu reacts as Italy’s players (background) celebrate their victory at the end of the men’s preliminary round group B basketball match between Italy and Nigeria during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)

 

Nigeria’s Nnamdi Vincent reacts after their defeat at the end of the men’s preliminary round group B basketball match between Italy and Nigeria during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)

 

Nigeria’s Jordan Nwora goes to the basket past Italy’s Danilo Gallinari (2R) in the men’s preliminary round group B basketball match between Italy and Nigeria during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)

 

Another impressive performer for Team Nigeria was Jordan Nwora who scored 20 for the D’Tigers while Jahill Okafor recorded 14 for Coach Brown’s team whose Olympics campaign came to an end without a win.

 

 

Italy’s Achille Polonara goes to the basket past Nigeria’s Jordan Nwora in the men’s preliminary round group B basketball match between Italy and Nigeria during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Eric GAY / POOL / AFP)

 

Italy’s Niccolo Mannion goes to the basket past Nigeria’s Ike Nwamu (2L) in the men’s preliminary round group B basketball match between Italy and Nigeria during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)

AFN Shocked Over Okagbare’s Suspension From Tokyo Olympics

A combination of file photos of Blessing Okagbare and the AFN logo.

 

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria says it received with great shock the press release by the Athletics Integrity Unit, suspending Blessing Okagbare from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics over a doping rule violation.

In a statement after AIU made the disclosure, the Federation said it was in the process of obtaining the relevant details of the announcement after which it would issue a full reaction.

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

It noted that the Nigerian 100/200m record holder has been provisionally suspended with immediate effect after a sample collected from the 32-year-old tested positive for Human Growth Hormone.

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Growth Hormone is a non-specified substance on the 2021 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List and a provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules.

AIU explained that it collected the sample from Okagbare during an out-of-competition test on July 19, saying the WADA-accredited laboratory that analysed the sample notified AIU of the adverse analytical finding at mid-day Central European Time on Friday.

The athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension on Saturday morning in Tokyo.

She was scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m scheduled for Saturday evening at the ongoing Olympic Games.

Okagbare’s suspension followed the disqualification of 10 other Nigerian athletes declared ineligible to compete at the games by AIU.

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

AIU said 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.

Okagbare Suspended From Tokyo Olympics After Failing Drug Test

Okagbare was expected to lead Nigeria’s push for medals in Tokyo.

 

One of Nigeria’s brightest chances of a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Blessing Okagbare, has been provisionally suspended from the competition.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the independent body created by the World Athletics that manages all integrity issues for the sport, announced the decision on Friday.

According to the AIU, Okagbare tested positive for Human Growth Hormone.

“Growth Hormone is a non-specified substance on the 2021 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List and a provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules,” the AIU said in its statement.

“The AIU collected the sample from Ms. Okagbare during an out-of-competition test on 19 July. The WADA-accredited laboratory that analysed the sample notified the AIU of the adverse analytical finding at mid-day Central European Time yesterday, Friday 30 July.

“The athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension this morning in Tokyo.

“She was scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m this evening.

“The AIU will make no further comment on this matter at this time.”

Okagbare and another Nigerian sprinter, Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha, had earlier qualified from their respective heats for the semi-finals.

But the ban means the end of the road for Okagbare, who was participating in her third Olympics.

Her suspension is the latest blow for Team Nigeria at the Tokyo Olympics.

On Thursday, the AIU had disqualified 10 Nigerian athletes from the Tokyo games for not complying with out-of-competition drug testing requirements.

Tokyo Olympics: Sunday Dare Apologises To Disqualified Athletes

The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, made an appearance on Channels TV on July 27, 2020.
The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare

 

The Minister of Sports and Development, Mr. Sunday Dare has apologised to the 10 Nigerian athletes that were disqualified from participating in the 2020 Olympics currently holding in Tokyo.

Mr. Dare made this known on Friday, in a press statement by the Federal Ministry of Sports, titled, ‘Ministry Wades to stem crisis’ where he promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding their disqualification.

“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 Director Federation of Elites Athletes Department, Dr. Simon Ebhojiaye, also disclosed that the ministry is aware of the situation and will address them.

He said “the Ministry is abreast of the situation on the ground and addressing them. Payment of various allowances commenced last week and it’s ongoing.”

10 Nigerian athletes were ruled ineligible to participate at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

The athletes were ruled ineligible due to failure to meet the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules for ‘Category A’ federations.

Okagbare, Nwokocha Advance To 100m Semis At Tokyo Olympics

A combination of file photos of Nigerian athletes, Blessing Okagbare and Grace Nwokocha.

 

For the first time since 2012, two Nigerian athletes will be running in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m after Blessing Okagbare and Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha qualified from their respective heats at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Okagbare will be running in her third semis since she made her debut in the event at the London 2012 Olympics. She ran 11.05 seconds to win her first-round heat.

The 32-year-old has been drawn in the first semi-final heat alongside two heavyweights of the event – defending champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica who ran 10.82 seconds to win her first-round heat, and Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the 200m world champion two years ago in Doha, Qatar who ran 11.07 seconds to come second in her first-round heat.

Okagbare, 2008 Beijing Olympics Long Jump silver medallist, will be in action at exactly 11.15 am Nigerian time on Saturday.

Nwokocha, on her part, ran a new personal best of 11.00 seconds to secure her qualification to the semi-finals in her debut at the Olympics.

The 20-year-old has also moved into fifth in the Nigeria all-time list behind Okagbare (10.79), Glory Alozie (10.90), Mary Onyali (10.97), and Damola Osayomi (10.99).

The home-based athlete who posted 11.09 seconds to secure her qualification for the Olympics in March at the MOC Grand Prix in Lagos will, however, need to make further history by breaking the 11 seconds barrier as the fifth Nigerian woman to do so to stand a chance of joining Onyali and Okagbare as debutants who ran all the way to the final of the event.

She has been drawn to run from lane nine in the third semi-final heat with the fastest woman alive, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, as well as Daryl Neita of Great Britain, Teahna Daniels of the USA, and fellow African, Muriel Ahoure of Ivory Coast.

Tokyo Olympics: AFN Admits ‘Lapses’ After Disqualification Of 10 Athletes

File Photo Of AFN

 

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) on Thursday admitted “lapses” on its part over the disqualification of 10 athletes from Tokyo Olympics for not complying with out-of-competition drug testing requirements.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) had announced the disqualification of the Nigerian athletes on Wednesday.

The AFN, which has been plagued by power tussle for several years, said they would take responsibility for the lapses that led to the disqualification.

“The AFN bears responsibility for any lapses that may have occurred during the process and reassures Nigerians that our performances (at Tokyo Olympics) will not be negatively impacted,” it said in a statement.

“All our athletes resident in Nigeria and who qualified for the Olympic Games completed the three mandatory tests,” it said.

“Most of our top athletes resident in the USA also completed their tests,” the AFN said.

“However, a few athletes in the American collegiate system were tested, but those tests were deemed not to have complied with WADA (world anti-doping agency) sample collection and analysis standards.”

The AFN said it had appointed a top official to head its medical and anti-doping commission.

Star sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who will compete in the 100m and 200m in Tokyo, was critical of the country’s sports officials.

“The sport system in Nigeria is so flawed and we athletes are always at the receiving end of the damages,” she said.

“They were busy fighting over power, exercising their pride over Puma contract/kits forgetting their major responsibility – the athletes.

“It’s sad that this cycle keeps repeating itself and some people will come out to say I am arrogant for speaking my truth. It’s my career,” she added.