Nigeria out of World Relays as US embassy denies athletes visas

Nigeria out of World Relays as US embassy denies athletes visas

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria has announced that athletes from the country will not be participating in the World Athletics relays billed to start from May 1 to 2, 2021 in Poland.

AFN’s factional president, Ibrahim Shehu-Gusau, said this in a statement on Thursday, titled, ‘Sports ministry scuttles Nigeria’s World Relays participation’.

But John Akanji, media aide to the sports minister, Sunday Dare, denied claims that the sports ministry scuttled Nigeria’s participation.

Akanji, who said Shehu-Gusau is not the recognised AFN president, confirmed the development, saying, “the athletes were denied visas by the US embassy.”

A leadership crisis is currently rocking the Nigerian athletics body with the sports ministry backing a faction headed by one Olamide George.

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.”

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Idowu Babalola

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