FINA World Swimming Champpionship: UAE Deny Nigerian Athletes Participation

By Daily Sports on December 18, 2021

Views: 410

Nigerian athletes were disallowed from participating in the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships 2021 holding in Abu Dhabi, The PUNCH exclusively gathered.

The athletes and their representatives claimed that they were denied access to participate in the competition by authorities of the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

According to the athletes, they arrived in UAE from European countries, not Nigeria but were denied the opportunity to represent their fatherland.

“On sighting our Nigerian passports, the UAE officials treated us with disdain,” a female athlete lamented.

Among the athletes affected are Philip Adejumo and Abiola Ogunbanwo.

Nigeria, UAE diplomatic row

Though organisers of the 2021 FINA are yet to respond to enquiries on the cause of the disqualification of the athletes, there is an ongoing diplomatic row between Nigeria and UAE.

The seeming diplomatic row between Nigeria and UAE had persisted since the outbreak of COVID-19, and it increased after the Omicron variant emerged.

Last Friday, for instance, the Federal Government cut down the daily flights of UAE’s Emirates Airlines to just one per week to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Providing an explanation for its action, the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, said that Air Peace Airlines, the only Nigerian airline that operated passenger flights to Sharjah International Airport in UAE, requested three weekly passenger flight frequencies and was granted only one weekly passenger flight frequency.

Later on the same day, Emirates in a statement announced the suspension of its flights to Nigeria.

Frustrated Nigerian athletes withdraw from competition

Following the frustration, some of the athletes withdrew from the competition. Some of them also complained that there were not allowed to see Nigerian officials.

“The officials were not even allowed to leave their hotel rooms and competition started yesterday,” one of the athletes told our correspondent.

An official said, “It is probably important we inform the Nigerian media of the treatment being faced by the Nigerian Swimming Team here in Abu Dhabi (UAE) at the ongoing FINA Short Course World Championships.

“Essentially, the whole team has been forced to withdraw from the competition, despite being vaccinated, doing multiple PCR tests, and not departing from Nigeria.

“The reason for the team being withdrawn was because one of the coaches tested positive for COVID-19, yet the officials, local government and FINA all collectively decided to remove everyone in the team from the competition, deeming them as close contacts.

“But a British swimmer tested positive and their whole team is not banned from competing. For Nigeria, our whole team was banned because of a coach, with whom athletes didn’t have contact. For the British, a swimmer tested positive, and the whole team is still fine to compete.

“In one case, one Nigerian swimmer travelled from the USA just yesterday morning, was fully vaccinated, had all the required tests, didn’t even have any contact with the coach that tested positive, yet he was not allowed to compete. (The PUNCH)

Source Daily Sports

Posted December 18, 2021


 

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