Heartbreak As Team Nigeria Out of World Relays After US Embassy Denies Athletes Visas
- Team Nigeria will miss out on the World Relays staging in Poland
- The athletes were denied visas by the United States embassy for an unknown reason
- The AFN and the Sports ministry are now trading blames on the issue instead of finding solution
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Team Nigeria will not be participating in the World Athletics relays billed for Poland from May 1 to 2, 2021.
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria confirmed the development in their correspondence to media houses on Thursday, April 29.
Factional president of the AFN Ibrahim Shehu-Gusau accused the sports ministry in his statement titled 'Sports ministry scuttles Nigeria’s World Relays participation’.
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However, the special adviser to the sports minister Sunday Dare on media matters John Akanji distanced the ministry and the minister from the claims.
Akanji who revealed that the athletes were denied visas by the US embassy also questions the presidency of Shehu-Gusau, saying he is not the recognised leader of the AFN according to Punch.
The statement by the Shehu Gusau-led AFN read,
“Nigeria will not participate in the World Relays because the Ministry of Youth and Sports opted to take the athletes to a training tour in the United States for the same relays, they are yet to qualify for, instead of a pre- Olympic Games qualification in Poland.
“The information at our disposal is that athletes who were supposed to represent Nigeria at the World Athletics Relays in Silesia, Poland were taken to the USA Embassy to obtain visas for a training tour of an event they were yet to qualify for.
“The scheduled relays in Poland were meant to enable Nigeria to secure qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo but to our disbelief, the athletes’ passports were diverted to the USA Embassy to secure visas for a training camp for an event they are yet to qualify for. How can a qualification competition in Poland which was our best bet be ignored for a training camp in the USA?
“This is one of the numerous reasons why sports in Nigeria should be allowed to be administered according to international best practices.”
A leadership crisis is currently rocking the Nigerian athletics body with the sports ministry backing a faction headed by one Olamide George.
Legit.ng earlier reported that one of Nigeria’s all-time athletes, Blessing Okagbare, has been presented with the Guinness World Record as the athlete with the most Diamond League appearances (67).
The 32-year-old personally announced her entry into the Guinness Book of Records as one of the hallowed names there.
In her post on Wednesday morning on social media, Okagbare stated that she feels honoured and really grateful to have been a recipient of such a prestigious award.