Team Nigeria will depart for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in two batches with 61 athletes flying the country’s flag, says Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr Sunday Dare.
The Minister made this disclosure on Monday while addressing the plenary meeting with National Sports Federations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
According to the Minister, “The emergence of COVID-19 pandemic in the first quarter of 2020 affected the organisational structures of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“This consequently pushed International Federations (IFs) to review their international sporting calendar and qualification pathway for athletes, in their quest to participate at the Games.
“These challenges, no doubt, were difficult to overcome, but could not stop us as a great nation in ensuring that our athletes are strongly supported and motivated to achieve this milestone”.
He also commended each and every one of them for their commitment and for standing together in this journey. “Specifically, I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his immense support in approving and ensuring that funds were released to enable our athletes attend series of qualification tournaments.
“As at today, Nigeria has qualified 61 athletes across nine (9) Sports for the Olympics, and 22 athletes in four (4)Sports for the Paralympic Games, which are: Athletics-22, Badminton-3, Basketball-24, Canoe sprint-1, Gymnastic-1, Rowing-1, Taekwondo-1, TableTennis-1, Wrestling-1 which sums up to 61 and for Paralympic Games we have;Para Athletics-5, Para Powerlifting-10, power rowing-1, Para Table Tennis-6 summing up to 22.”
The Minister further said, “The recent qualification of Nigeria for the Women’s 4x100m, Women’s 4x400m and 4x400m Mixed Relays was a significant achievement for the country, while still awaiting the World Athletics (WA) to ratify the slots in a few days”.
The Ministry, he said, in collaboration with the Nigerian Olympic Committee has scheduled a 14-day Pre-Games Training Camp (PGTC) for the athletes in Kisarazu, Japan.
He noted that this move is to further expose the athletes to adequate preparations ahead of their events as well as to give them ample time to adjust to the Japanese time zone, adding that it is also strategic to meet with COVID-19 regulations.