Minister apologies to disqualified athletes, pledges better welfare

The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has pledged to address issues surrounding welfare and disqualification of 10 Nigerian athletes from participating in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics. Simon Ebhojiaye, Director, Federation of Elites Athletes Department (FEAD) in the ministry, said this in a statement on Friday. He said the ministry had stepped in to stem and address all issues concerning Team Nigeria athletes at the Games.

Supreme reports that 10 Nigerian athletes had been disqualified due to administrative lapses regarding meeting three pre-Olympics anti-doping tests, while captain of Team Nigeria, Aruna Quadri, had complained over poor welfare. Ebhojiaye however explained that payment of allowances to athletes commenced last week and its still ongoing. He said the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, had on Thursday in a meeting apologised directly to the 10 track and field athletes disqualified and assured them of their welfare.

The minister also pledged to fully investigate circumstances leading to the unfortunate development with a view to halting any reoccurrence. The director also said issues relating to the IOC packs/phones for the athletes was also resolved by the minister, stressing that no official of Team Nigeria or NOC took away any entitlements of any athlete. “No official of Team Nigeria or NOC took away entitlements of any athlete as being wrongly reported“. Therefore, issue over the phone was resolved administratively according to the IOC Rule and guidelines. “Team Nigerian officials acted in line with IOC standards and as soon as approval was received the right thing was done,” he said.

Supreme reports that the IOC had approved that the 10 Nigerian athletes disqualified due to no fault of theirs also receive the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G distributed to athletes at the Games Village. The letter of approval for their release was signed by Jonas Brun, Junior Project Manager, NOC Relations/ NOC Services. “Regarding your athletes that will not participate in competitions in Tokyo in light of the latest information received, I confirm that you can still go ahead and give phones to the athletes,” the letter read in part. The phones were meant for athletes to benefit from all important information included in the Athlete365website and also to comply with requirements set forth in the Play books, in particular the download and use of the apps required by the Japanese authorities.

Supreme reports that some of the disqualified athletes, due to the alleged negligence of Nigerian officials not ensuring that they undergo the three out-of-competition tests in the build up to the Olympics, staged a protest in Tokyo on Friday. They accused the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) for negligence leading to their disqualification. 

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