Nigerian track and field athletes protested on Tuesday against the unknown individuals who guaranteed their participation at the 2020 Olympic Games.
Nigerian athletes protested against at the Tokyo Olympics.
Ten Nigerian athletes, who have already qualified for the 2020 Olympics, were suspended because they did not pass drugs tests before the competition.
All track and field athletes who qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were required to undergo a minimum of three out-of-competition tests before the tournament. However, it was discovered that 10 Nigerians training in America had taken these tests in violation of WADA rules which invalidated them.
When some of the athletes were suspended, the Olympics federation released a statement saying they “were substitutes or students altogether.”
As these athletes and others protested in the Olympic village with placards in hand, one read that they said “we are not substitutes but potential medalists”. These protesters included record holders:
- Ruth Usoro – African record in the triple jump indoors.
- Favourite Ofili – African record in the women’s 200m indoors.
- Annette Echikunwok – African record in the women’s hammer throw.
- Chidi Okezie – African bronze medallist in the men’s 400m.
The Nigerian independent athletics organization stated that “Nigeria is the hardest hit country” because it failed to meet the minimum testing requirements.
What the athletes themselves say
“On my 25th birthday, I found out that the negligence of the federation for which I was supposed to represent at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics meant that I could not compete. My registration with my name in this event feels like a strange nightmare.”
“I think of all the hours of training, all the moments when my body was in pain,” said Annette Echikunwoke “but I reminded myself, ‘It’s worth it,’ just to keep going.”