Monday, August 13, 2012

No medals for Nigeria at London 2012 Olympics

The story of Nigeria at the 2012 London Olympics is "No gold, no silver, no bronze, N2.3 billion down the drain."

And now a top Nigerian sports official who is a member of an international sports federation wants the federal government to compel the sports ministry to account for how they spent the N2.3 billion government released for the Olympic Games which ended in London yesterday. He would not have his name on print.

He said the ministry should disclose how much they released to each sports association that presented a team to the Olympic Games. Athletics, Weightlifting, Taekwondo(athletes) Canoeing (one athlete), Wrestling, Basketball, Table Tennis and Boxing associations presented teams at the games. All the athletes were 51. The number of officials was still unknown as there were many who were not accredited and, consequently, were not useful to the athletes. They stayed in their hotels to watch the games on television. This irked the Nigerian official and he described the action of the ministry as "wasteful."

He said it was necessary for the ministry to disclose the allocations to each association because of what he called "the wrong decisions" that partly affected Nigeria's preparation to the games.

The official said the following: "Taekwondo that presented two athletes was given over N65m to prepare while Athletics that had over 100 athletes but which they pruned to 28 for the Olympics was given N131m. Basketball which had to travel to Venezuela for their qualifying tournament was given N75m for all their preparation including the tournament in Venezuela. 

The rest of the sports did not get more than N500,000. And yet N2.3 billion was released for the Olympic games. But the money came in installments and it came so late that nothing much could be done with the last installment. This is not the way to prepare for the Olympic Games. The people who disbursed the money took wrong decisions and now the athletes are saying that they did not prepare well. The ministry is to blame."

A coach in one of the teams admitted that Nigeria lacked world class athletes and that even if more billions of money were approved the money would have still gone down the drain as "you cannot perform magic over night in sports, you build over a period of time."

The last time Nigeria left the Olympic Games without a medal was 24 years ago in the Seoul Olympic Games of 1988.

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