61 Nigerian athletes to leave for Tokyo in two batches

Team Nigeria will depart for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with 61 athletes in two batches, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare has confirmed.

The Minister gave the detail 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.

The minister said, “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.

“I must sincerely commend each and every one of you for your 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.

Dare stated that Nigeria was presenting 61 athletes across nine sports for the Olympics, and 22 athletes in 4 Sports for the Paralympic Games. They are: Athletics with 22 athletes, Badminton – 3,  Basketball – 24, Canoe sprint, Gymnastic, Rowing, Taekwondo, Table Tennis and Wrestling have one athlete each to add up to the 61. Nigeria Paralympic Games will parade Para Athletics – 5, Para Powerlifting – 10, power rowing – 1 and Para Table Tennis with 6 to make up 22.

The Minister then added, “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 in collaboration with the Nigerian Olympic Committee has scheduled a 14-day Pre-Games Training Camp (PGTC) for the athletes in Kisarazu, Japan. 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. It is also strategic to meet with Covid-19 regulations. For the Olympic Games, the first batch of the athletes is scheduled to depart for Kisarazu on 6th July, 2021 while the second batch will depart on 13th July. The Paralympic Teams will depart in one batch on the 8th of August.

The minister said the ministry had engaged four travel agencies to handle flight tickets for Team Nigeria.