Sports

Tokyo Olympics: Minister douses tension as athletes protest

Pandemonium hit the camp of Team Nigeria on Friday as athletes protested over the shabby treatment meted out to them by the Nigerian officials to the 2020 Olympic Games.

Team Nigeria Captain Quadri Aruna, couldn’t bear the ill-treatment as he hit his Instagram handle @quadriaruna on Friday to express his frustration.

 

Aruna, who is Africa’s top-ranked table tennis player, lambasted officials for shortchanging athletes at the Games. He also attributed his shocking ouster from the competition to the failure of the officials to allow him to travel with his proven coach.

 

“You all wanted me to perform well  but you removed my coach that qualified me to (who helped me to qualify for) the quarter-finals at the Rio 2016 Olympics,’’ the 32-year-old who exited the Games in the third round, said. “I dare you all to remove me (from the National team) because I said the truth.

 

“Athletes are being short paid (underpaid) and nobody should complain? “If the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, doesn’t come and address the athletes, these officials will spoil all the good things you (Dare) have been doing.’’

 

In what looked like corroboration of Quadri’s position, his teammate Funke Oshonaike wrote on her Facebook page that she was hurt by the happenings around the camp.

 

“I’ve gone through so much pain today! My heart hurts!! I feel terrible I can’t wait to get back home to my kids; she wrote on her verified Facebook page.

 

The situation on Friday was compounded by the 10 disqualified athletes who stormed the streets of Tokyo with placards to protest their exclusion from the Games, heaping blame on officials for their woes.

 

However, few hours after his post, Quadri came back online to express his gratitude to the minister who assured them their allowances and grants would be fully paid.

 

“I have just had a fruitful meeting with the Minister based on my position as General Team Captain to resolve the issues surrounding the training grants of Nigerian athletes based overseas.

 

The meeting initiated by the Minister has allayed our fears and was very reassuring. The athletes are now relaxed with the assurances and action taken by the Honourable Minister.

 

We will do our utmost best to make our dear country proud in the Games,” he later wrote. Meanwhile, the ministry of sports in a statement, said the minister had addressed all contentious issues in camp.

 

The ministry also assured that steps were on to ensure various issues in Team Nigeria camp were addressed promptly.

 

“The Minister spoke directly with the 10 track and field athletes who will not be competing and assured them of their welfare. He apologized to them for the unfortunate development and promised it will be fully investigated,” the statement read.

 

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