The Olympic Games are the times and opportunities for the world’s best athletes to showcase their talents, and elevate their countries in the world stage through their performances, especially by winning medals. It has been said that the end of any Olympic Game is the beginning of the next one, as athletes began preparations in earnest for the next four years when the games would again be held. It has also been observed that those nations that do well in the Olympics begin early to prepare for the games.
Sadly in the case of Nigeria, preparing early for important sporting events like the Olympics has never been taken seriously by successive administrations. The so-called fire brigade approach has come to define the way the nation’s leaders, especially in the Ministry of Sports pursue preparations for important international sporting events.
The recent show of shame at the run-up to the Rio Olympics and at the Games proper has brought to the fore that Nigeria’s lack of coordination and preparations for sporting events. The face of that shame was amplified to the world when CNN reported that Nigeria’s football team for the Games, popularly referred to as ‘Dream Team Six’, was stranded in Atlanta Georgia, in the United States where they had gone to prepare ahead of the Games.
It took the intervention of Delta Air of the United States to fly them to Brazil, just less than six hours to their opening match with Japan. It was a miracle that the team could under the circumstance win the match. It was also a manifestation of the esilience for which Nigerians are known for all over the world-snatching life at the point of death. What happened in Atlanta was condemnable and most condemnable was the ignoble role played by the minister of sports, Mr Solomon Dalung in the whole saga.
He did not only abandon the team in Atlanta, but reportedly tried to undermine the authority of the coach of the team, Samson Siasia who had sacrificed a lot to keep his team in shape for the games. To make matters worse even the wrong Nigerian national anthem was played before the match, thanks to the incompetence of Nigerian officials.
Today despite all odds, the team has booked a quarter final ticket after beating Sweden in their second group’s match and gathering six maximum points, but we must never forget the failure of the minister of sports and the entire ministry in preparing them for the games.
Similarly, Nigerians watching the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics was shocked that the country’s athletes wore track suites instead of our national traditional attires for such parades. When they asked, they were told that the attires for the opening ceremony could not be delivered in Brazil on time for the games. What a shame!
To avoid this show of shame in future, it is high time that those saddled with the responsibility of preparing Nigeria’s athletes for the games are sanctioned if they failed to do the needful and brought the nation to ridicule by their actions and inactions. We expect that President Muhammadu Buhari, would wield the big stick and sanction both the minister of sports and officials of the ministry over their failures ahead of the games and during the games to show that change
has truly come to Nigeria.