Nigerian Athletes Seek Public Support For Rio Olympics | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigerian Athletes Seek Public Support For Rio Olympics

Solomon Dalung
Posted: Jul 23, 2016 at 8:54 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

..As AFN Asks Athletes To Buy Tickets

..Ministry Denies Giving Such Directive

Peter Edema


Athletes who will represent Nigeria at the Rio Olympics in 12 days time have taken to social media seeking for sponsorship, following government directive that they buy their tickets to the Games.

We learnt on good authority that the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), in a memo on Friday July 22, 2016 to foreign based athlete, instructed that they buy their ticket with a promise to refund in Brazil.

The memo titled, Reservation/payment of ticket to Rio/Refund ticket, the AFN asked the athletes to, however, inform the ministry of the cost of their one way ticket (economy) if it was in line with approved budget.

The athletes were directed to purchase their tickets after getting approval from the ministry.

Consequent upon this directive, Regina George, Seye Ogunlewe Jnr.among other athletes have taken to the social media soliciting for sponsorship due to lack of funds.

George, selected for the 4×400 event opened a GoFundMepage, seeking for funds so that she could be in Rio.

She wrote, “To all my family, friends and fans, thanks for being here for me through the good times and bad times.

This year it’s been hard financially for me but it wouldn’t have been possible without your support.

I’ve just been told that we will have to pay our own way to the Olympics this year.

Sadly this is such short notice for me to come up with the money.

They also promised a refund but I’m still waiting for many refunds promised in the past.

I’ve been through a lot of obstacles this year and through it all I got into the Olympic team for the second time.

I don’t want to stop now after I earned a spot to represent my country in the Olympics. Any donation will help my situation.

This will not go unnoticed and I’m truly grateful for my supporters. Help spread the word!”

Ogunlewe on his part is asking the corporate world to come to his aid. He requested his assistance from Zenith Bank, Heritage Bank, Oando Plc, ForteOilNig, DangoteGroup, MTNNig, Gloworld, Etisalat.

But the Sports Ministry denied giving such directive on Saturday.

The ministry in a statement signed by Nneka Ikem Anibeze, Special Assistant on Media To the Minister, Solomon Dalung, said that the ministry did not ask any foreign athlete to buy their ticket to Rio.

“We did not write any mail asking athletes to pay their way to Rio,” Dalung said in the statement adding, “As the overseers of sports in the country, it is our duty to take care of all our athletes. The letter did not come from us and we will investigate the writer of that letter.

“It does not represent our stand concerning the movement of athletes to Rio and the writer or anybody asking athletes to buy their tickets to Rio will be investigated. We ask Nigerians and athletes in particular to disregard the mail,” Dalung said.

The minister said that the Director, High Performance, Angie Taylor, has been saddled with the responsibility of arranging for the flights and movement of the foreign based athletes to and from Rio.

He regretted the embarrassment caused by the letter and asked athletes to remain focused on their build-up to the Rio Games.

Meanwhile, the AFN, has directed the athletes to discountenance the earlier directive following the public outcry.

AFN Secretary, Bamidele Olumide, in another memo on Saturday said that the directive has become imperative because the earlier memo was misconstrued by the athletes.