Sports Minister Applauds IOC on Extension of Tokyo 2020 Qualifiers

Sunday Dare

Femi Solaja

As the International Olympic committee (IOC) has now extended till the end of June 2021 the period which athletes who are yet to pick tickets for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to do so, Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, has applauded the move.

The grace period given by the IOC is because of the Covid-19 pandemic that has resulted in the postponement of the Games by one year.

Several federations were yet to complete their Olympic qualifications before the coronavirus struck, putting everything on hold. Now, IOC’s grace period is before the final deadline of July 5th, 18 days before the Olympics gets underway on July 23rd, 2021.

Only 57 per cent of the of the 11,000 athletes that would be participating at the Tokyo Games had qualified before the event was moved by a year due to the pandemic.

According to Dare, ” We are excited that the IOC has granted this concession so that those qualifiers can be completed. This will give the athletes ample time to prepare.

“Also , we now have enough time to make funds available to those sports federations that had yet to complete their qualifiers,” observed the minister at the weekend.

Despite the lockdown, Dare insisted that the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development was monitoring the training programmes of most Team Nigeria athletes.

“We are monitoring all our athletes and we believe they are training well despite the world – wide lockdown.”

He assured stakeholders that Nigeria would stick to the earlier stance to feature in only 11 events at the Games in order to enhance the country’s chances of performing well.

Cloud of uncertainty had gathered over the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers following the rapid spread of the virus around the world until IOC cleared the air in a letter addressed to all its members at the weekend.