Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, has apologised for the embarrassment the West African country suffered at the Tokyo Olympics that saw 10 of its athletes disqualified and one of its finalists washing his own jersey.
The minister has been roundly criticised by many Nigerians and sports officials over the country’s Olympics experience but Mr Dare in a statement sent to ARISE News on Monday night said Nigeria’s “medal outcome at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics stands as Nigeria’s best result in the last 13 years.”
The statement read in part, “while the general trends and overall performance was positive, I must mention two unfortunate incidents that occurred,” Mr Dare said.
“First is the mishap resulting in 10 Team Nigeria athletes being ruled ineligible to compete for missing their mandatory Out of Competition Test, OTC.
“When notice of this ruling got to me, I immediately mobilized my team and the AFN leadership to see how the situation could be salvaged. We mounted a vigorous appeal process with Athletics Integrity Unit, AIU and had the team members complete the tests.
“However, timing became the critical issue . Despite our energetic appeal, the deciding committee made its announcement which gave no latitude to our team members for what was only an inadvertent lapse.
“As the Minister I must bear some institutional responsibility for this lapse … I have ordered a full investigation that will not only uncover what happened but will also, recommend a process where such lapses can never occur in the future and initiate leveraging compliance monitoring technology to guardrail this.
“I have personally apologized to the affected athletes. Here and now, I personally apologize to all Nigerians for this ineligibility episode. The AFN has also taken responsibility and apologized to the athletes and to Nigerians.”
By Abel Ejikeme