There was a controlled detonation of a suspected bomb at the venue of the match between Nigeria and Spain late on Thursday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Olympic basketball match was fixed for 11pm Nigerian time.
The explosion occurred just as the teams began to play at the venue not so far from the revered Maracana Stadium.
PUNCH reports that specialist officers were drafted in when the package was discovered and they had to systematically manage the explosion without creating panic and causing injuries to spectators in the hall. Even though spectators heard the huge bang when it was detonated, the players were deep in their business and may have imagined it was part of the usual drums and noise by the fans.
The coaches and top officials were however briefed about measures undertaken when the package was discovered.
Nigerian coach, William Voigt, who spoke about it said although he was worried he had to manage the information in order to avoid distracting his players. Nigeria lost the match 96-87.
Voigt said, “I had been notified. In fact, Ike (Diogu) was wondering what we were talking about. I decided not to say anything to anyone else. I didn’t really want it to be a distraction. I knew, certainly, when whatever it was went off.”
The American who coached Nigeria during its first African cup success in Tunisia last year, however, said that even though the bomb threat was a huge concern, he wouldn’t attribute the incident to why his players started the game slowly and eventually lost.
“It’s something everybody noticed but the players didn’t. So I don’t think we can use that as a reason for why we weren’t ready to start,” he said.
The explosion is not the first mark of trouble in a country known for organised violent groups, even though they had been safe from raw terrorism in the last few years.