Stories by George Aluo
Sports minister, Sunday Dare is planning big for Nigerian athletes, declaring that the present situation where they hardly get funds needed for training would soon be a thing of the past. Dare who spoke when he met members of the Nigerian Olympics Association (NOA) in his Abuja office said the sports ministry would set up a special fund for athletes. In his words…”We intend to set up a special fund for atheletes which would provide funds for training, facilities and credit line. We shall create opportunities for our sports people to thrive.” The minister stressed that he would work more closely with the nation’s Olympians insisting that they must mentor the country’s future stars, even as he added that this informs why he is paying special attention to grassroots sports. “The gold is in the child, I have made this statement repeatedly because the grassroots sports is where the talent can be discovered and nurtured to stardom. I believe in grassroots which is why principal cup is one of my projects to revalidate grassroots sports. We have started a nursery for development of our sports. As Olympians, your legacies can only last when you are able to groom new Olympics medalists. You must mentor younger atheletes. If we organize an Olympics camp once in a year where young people will train, it would attract a large number of young people,” Dare stated. In his response, President of the Nigerian Olympians Association, Olumide Oyedeji said the aims and objectives of the association amongst others, include relating with government and the sports Ministry to take Nigerian sports to higher grounds and assisting sports men and women to reach their potentials
Ahead Tokyo Olympics: AFN perfects strategy in Akure
The first evaluation meet towards getting Nigeria’s track and field athletes in top shape for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo will hold next weekend (March 12-13) at the sports ground of the Federal University of Technology (FUTA) in Akure,the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has announced. The two-day event, according to Prince Adeniyi Beyioku, Secretary General of the AFN will be the first in a series of activities lined up by the federation in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to prepare the athletes for the Olympic Games in Tokyo,Japan. “FUTA in Akure will hold the first of the events and all our home based athletes are expected at the venue as they are also trying to meet the qualification standard set by World Athletics for the Games,” said Beyioku. “The event will actually be the second organised by the AFN led by Honourable Olamide George this year after the All-Comers meet held on the same ground last month,” Beyioku added. The AFN through its athletes has won 13 of the 25 medals Nigeria has won at the Olympics including two of the three gold medals. “We are looking good for another successful trip to the games,” said Gabriel Okon,the federation’s Performance Director. “Favour Ofili and Ruth Usoro have added to the list of athletes who have met the qualifying standards for the games and we believe the evaluation meets will enable more athletes to get the standard and be in top shape for the biggest event of the year,” said Okon. All eyes will be on sprinter,Enoch Adegoke whose incredible,then world-leading 100m time of 10.16 seconds headlined the All-Comers meet last time out.
…As organisers delay decision on spectators
Tokyo 2020 is to decide on the attendance of international spectators at the Olympic and Paralympic Games by the end of this month (March). The issue was at the top of the agenda during a five-party meeting held mid week between Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee. Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto revealed a decision on international spectators would be made by the end of the month. Hashimoto voiced a personal preference for the call to be made by March 25, before the start of the Torch Relay. The capacity of each venue will then be decided on by the end of April. During the opening remarks of the five-party meeting, IOC President Thomas Bach suggested that ensuring “safe, secure and fair competition” would take priority over other aspects of the Games. “I think we all agree that we will focus on the Games,” he said. “That means mainly the competitions. “This has to be the clear focus to have a safe, secure and fair competition for all the athletes, because this is the core of the Olympic Games. “In this respect, we may have to set one or another priorities, and we have to be aligned in these priorities. “I do not think this is a challenge because we agree on this principle.” Bach also pledged to ensure the safety of the Japanese population during the Games. “I think we also agree that it is key for the success of the Olympic Games that we have as the top priority the COVID-19 countermeasures, and that we are doing everything to ensure the safety of the Games for all participants, but also for the Japanese people and the population of Tokyo in particular,” he said. Japanese newspaper The Mainichi had reported earlier that overseas spectators will be unable to attend Tokyo 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. It has become increasingly likely in recent months that this will be the case, due to concerns that spectators entering Japan from around the world could cause a rise in coronavirus cases. Tokyo is in a state of emergency due to the pandemic, but cases have fallen in the capital in recent weeks and measures could be lifted on Sunday (March 7). Around 4.48 million tickets for the Olympics have already been sold as well as 970,000 for the Paralympics, through the official ticketing website and various lotteries. Tickets will be valid for 2021, with only 810,000 of Japanese ticketholders for the Olympics requesting refunds in December. Sales of tickets were forecast to provide ¥90 billion (£602 million/$842 million/€696 million) in revenue. Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has been a proponent of allowing spectators to attend the Olympics and Paralympics, albeit in limited numbers