As the start off to the 2016 Rio Olympics gets closer, more disheartening stories have continued to seep out from the Nigerian athletes’ camps. Those with the dreams to chase medals in Brazil, especially those based in Nigeria, have resorted to desperate measures to make their participation possible. Athletes are now begging for cash to train and chase their Olympic dreams.
A top public figure and a member of the ruling government party told The PUNCH on Monday that the situation had become too bad for the athletes that begging patrons for funds appears a major way forward for them.
He said, “It is that bad and I can confide in you if you insist on specific names. Adebisi (pseudonym) called me for cash and she’s not the only one. Others have gone in different directions to beg. This is what I know.
“She’s a major and senior athlete but see the level she has fallen to just meet up with her training programme. These guys want to be able to compete with their mates in Brazil but we are going the very sad and unprepared way we have always done things.”
The official told our correspondent that he would not be surprised if Nigerian athletes were left out of the Games.
The sports ministry officials led by the minister Solomon Dalung have been arguing over the disbursement of a whopping N2.9bn released by President Muhammadu Buhari for the qualifiers and preparations leading to the Games.
“I do not know why there’s so much spat about that cash. The minister should have been able to lay his hands on the file by now even though the President approved the money before he came into office. There should be clear records on how the money was spent. But it is unfortunate that the way they are handling that expenditure has so angered Buhari that he is not ready to listen to anybody concerning the Olympics. I won’t be surprised if they don’t have the cash to participate in the Games eventually,” he said.
The Rio Olympics is billed to start August 5.
Last week, former sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi presented a paper at the international conference of the African Sports Management Association in Abuja and said, “However, it is significant to note that none of these remarkable achievements (Atlanta ’96 etc) were a result of deliberately designed system or template. They were owed more to luck and the rugged determination of individual athletes than any articulate framework of process and outcome. The issues that led to our fantastic failure in Seoul were the same issues that led to our failure in London and almost definitely, Rio later this year.”