Nigerians Erupt in Protest as Almost Half of Tokyo Olympics Athletics Contingent Gets Disqualified from Events

Published 07/31/2021, 9:07 AM EDT
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Women’s 100m – Round 1 – OLS – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – July 30, 2021. Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria reacts after winning Heat 6 REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson


10 Nigerian athletes have been declared ineligible to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. This happened due to the Administrative lapses of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria. Therefore, nearly half of the 23 athletes of Nigeria were sent home.

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The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) had declared that these athletes were ineligible to compete in Tokyo, due to their non-compliance with out-of-competition drug testing procedures in the lead-up to the Games. The AIU confirmed that a total of 20 athletes from seven countries had been ruled out.

Following this, the Nigerian Track and Field Athletes staged a protest at the Olympic Village in Tokyo on Friday. In the protest spurred by a statement from the Nigeria Ministry of Sports, athletes marched through the Olympic Village with placards to express their discontent.

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“The 10 athletes are principally alternate and foreign students athletes, whose tests did not meet with World Anti-doping Authority (WADA) sample collection and analysis standards,” the Ministry’s statement said. Clearly, this looks like a measure to evade responsibility.

In lieu of that statement, the athletes carried some of the following signs with phrases expressing their disappointment and concerns:

1.  “We aren’t just alternates, but potential medalists”

2. “All we wanted to do is to compete”

3. “Why should we suffer for someone else’s negligence?”

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Who all have been disqualified from the Olympics?

Annette Echikunwoke is among the 10 athletes who have been disqualified from Nigeria. She took to Instagram to express her feelings. Unfortunately, she received this news on her 25th birthday.

“We cannot let anything like this happen again to athletes, devastating dreams and crushing opportunities,” she said as a part of her statement.

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Chioma Onyekwere, the African record holder in the women’s discus; Rosemary Chukwuma, the Youth Olympics 100m champion, bronze medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and gold in the 4x100m relay at the Africa Games are among the athletes who have been disqualified.

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Further, other athletes on this list include Ruth Usoro, the African record holder, in the triple jump, Favour Ofili, the African Games silver medallist in the women’s 200m, and Chidi Okezie, the African Games bronze medallist in the men’s 400m.

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Olympic Silver Medallist Blessing Okagbare also took to Twitter to express her support towards the affected athletes. Following this, she was suspended from the Olympics as well. Follow that story here.

Similarly, even the Team Nigeria Captain Aruna Quadri also took to Instagram in their support. He ensured that (after his meeting with the Sports Minister of Nigeria) some issues of training grants are being resolved.

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

134 articles

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