Don’t go to Rio if… Buhari warns officials

  • Urges athletes to shun drugs

ANY sports official who has no business with Rio Olympics must not travel for the games, President Muhammadu Buhari had warned.

Speaking on Tuesday at his official handover of Team Nigeria to the Nigerian Olympic Committee in Old Banquet Hall, presidential villa, Abuja, he said whoever was interested in the game but not part of the official delegation could go at his own expense.

The ceremony also witnessed his investiture of the as the Grand Patron of the Nigerian Olympic Committee.

The president assured that money for the games commencing between August 5 and 21, would be released without further delay and admonished that it must be properly utilised.

He said: “We are all aware of our nation’s dwindling revenue and the current global economic challenges.  It is therefore imperative that funds provided for the games are utilised judiciously.

“In this regard, any official who has no business at the games should stay at home to cheer the team from here and if they must travel to the Olympics, they should do so at their own expense.”

Buhari congratulated the athletes for their qualification for the games despite the daunting economic challenges in the country, warning them to stay away from anything that would bring disrepute to the country particularly doping.

Buhari stated: “As the Federal Government formally hands over our athletes and officials for the Rio Olympics to the Nigeria Olympic Committee today, I want to charge all athletes and team officials going to the Olympic Games to be worthy ambassadors of our great country, both on the field of play and outside the sporting arena.

“The eyes of the global community are on you and as such, you should desist from acts that could dent the image of our great country, Nigeria.

“You are very aware of recent doping allegations, which cast aspersions not only on the individual athletes but on their home countries. Please keep Nigeria clean.

“The menace of drug use in sports is threatening the core foundation of sports and has led to embarrassing situations as well as sanctions of some great sporting nations.

“I therefore urge you to keep the integrity of our nation intact by competing clean and fair at the Olympic Games.

“Please bring as many medals back home as a result of your efforts and endeavour. But remember it is more important to compete and acquit your country as a fair sporting nation than to bring a pack of medals as a result of bending the rules and denying the Games of fair competition.”

The president assured the athletes that the entire Nigerian population was behind them and urged to “go for gold.”In his remark, Minister of Sport, Solomon Dalong, observed that the present economic downturn in the country notwithstanding, President Buhari has not wavered in his support for sports.

He assured that the 86 athletes, who would be representing Nigeria in nine sports, were the best the country could offer as he noted that they were chosen based on their record, performance and attitude.

He affirmed that Team Nigeria was poised not just to make up the number in Rio but to win laurels cleanly.

Also speaking, President of the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC), Habu Gumel, assured that the team would be worthy ambassadors of the country and would stay away from scandals.

“We will make sure that all athletes remain clean before, during and after the games,” he said.