The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, has restated government’s commitment to Team Nigeria’s participation at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio next month.
Mr. Dalung gave the assurance when he met with members of the Nigeria Olympic Committee NOC.
The meeting was to harmonize the technical, marketing and movement aspects of Team Nigeria to Rio.
The minister said that the delay in federal government’s release of funds for the games was due to administrative lapses, but reassured the Federations’ presidents and the NOC that President Muhammadu Buhari had promised that attention was being given to the issue.
“The memo we wrote to Mr. President did not get his attention in time. You all will agree with me that no attention was given to preparations for the Olympics in the past three years. President Muhammadu Buhari has given us his word that Nigeria will be in Rio for the Olympics and has restated his commitment. The delay in releasing funds is not unconnected with the present financial situation in the country and the policy change in releasing funds. The global economic recessions notwithstanding, the federal government will do all it can to ensure that Nigeria’s flag is hoisted at the games,” Mr. Dalung said.
The minister also urged the NOC and sports federations to embrace private sector partnerships to drive some of their programmes and confirmed July 19 as date for the formal handover of athletes to the NOC to proceed to the games.
“As at the last count, 95 athletes have met qualification requirements for the games. They will be officially handed over to the NOC during an investiture of President Muhammadu Buhari as the Grand Patron of the Nigeria Olympic Movement on July19, 2016 at the Villa’s Banquet Hall. We urge the private sector to also key into this lunch date with the President to buy tables at the occasion which in turn will be used to fund the athletes,” he said.
The president of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Habu Gumel, thanked the minister for the reassurance and promised that the NOC will work with the government to ensure a successful outing in Rio.
“On behalf of the Olympic family we want to thank the federal government for your support. We will work with you. It’s a collective responsibility so that while we are in Rio, we will be able to make Nigeria proud”.
Mr. Gumel said that 11 athletes had been given grants by the International Olympic Committee as well as $103,000 as grants for the Olympics while 14 other athletes also received same privilege from ANOCA.