With just 10 days to the kickoff of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Nigerians have been assured of an impressive outing by Team Nigeria.
Speaking during the unveiling of Team Nigeria kits and handing over of the athletes to the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC) at the State House Abuja on Monday, Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr Sunday Dare said, “As you all are aware, the preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics began long before the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the organisers of both events to postpone the Games expected to hold between July 23 and August 24, 2021, respectively. These athletes will be flying the colours of our great country, Nigeria, in Tokyo in the coming days.
“I want to use this opportunity to sincerely thank Mr. President and the members of the National Assembly for the unwavering support in terms of resources and provision of an enabling environment that made it possible for these athletes to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”
Dare disclosed that Nigeria qualified in Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Canoeing, Gymnastics, Rowing, Taekwondo,Table Tennis and Wrestling.
“For the Paralympic Games, Para Powerlifting, Para Athletics, Para Rowing and Para Table-Tennis all qualified. In all, a total of 58 athletes will be competing for glory in the Olympic Games and 22 athletes for the Paralympic Games, respectively,” he said.
He further stated, “In a very clear departure from the past, athletes of Team Nigeria have been in camp for the past two months in an intensive and extensive training programme in ensuring that our esteemed athletes are physically fit for the Games. As the team departs for Japan, it will head straight to Kisarazu for another two weeks for the offshore final camping exercise before the commencement of the Tokyo Olympic Games.”
The Minister expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for his moral and financial support.
“All these would not have been possible without the support of Mr. President. I want to assure you that with the pedigree of the athletes who make up Team Nigeria and the level of preparations, Team Nigeria will not disappoint Nigerians at the Tokyo 2020 Games. All we need is the continuous support and prayers of Nigerians,” he said.
The Minister said the Athletes who were carefully selected have demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism, commitment and discipline, recalling that the Ministry organised close to 90 days of staggered camping in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Yenagoa. A national trials was also organised and an international invitational involving five countries was also held in a concerted effort to ensure Team Nigeria qualifies for Track and field.
“Let me assure you Mr. President Sir, that these Athletes will do Nigeria proud at the Olympics by representing Nigeria well. Many of them have told me personally about their determination to achieve podium success to make Nigeria proud. I have no reason to doubt their commitment. I surely wish them the best,” he said.
In the same vein, the federal government has urged team Nigeria to make the country proud at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with spectacular performance devoid of cheating.
The Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the send forth and unveiling of the team and kits at the State House, Abuja on Monday made this assertion, while commending the Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr Sunday Dare for ensuring a hitch free preparation.
“I commend the innovative and hardworking Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr Sunday Dare and the entire Staff of the Ministry for developing these stars and enabling Nigeria participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I’m very happy to see the very best of the best Nigerian athletes representing Nigeria at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Fifty-eight outstanding athletes and 18 World class coaches joining about 258 other countries of the world in the biggest and most spectacular sporting event in the world,” he said.