Barred Nigerian athletes protest peacefully under Olympic ringsFriday, July 30, 2021
TOKYO, Japan — Nigerian athletes barred from competing at the Olympics took to the streets of Tokyo in protest on Friday.
The 10 athletes were disqualified due to a reported failure to meet out-of-competition testing requirements.
Since then, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria has accepted responsibility, however the situation has still left the athletes bitterly disappointed, and they displayed their frustration by sitting on the steps below the Olympic rings in Tokyo wearing their national colours and holding placards.
“All we wanted to do is compete!”, “10 out of 23, We can’t continue this way!!”, ‘We are not just alternates but potential medallists’; “Dreams mattered” were some of the messages displayed by the placard-bearing athletes.
In an Instagram post Friday, one of the barred athletes, long and triple jumper Ruth Usoro, wrote: “We come in peace… I believe most of us reading this right now are glued on their screens hoping to see me compete. Unfortunately I wont be able to compete, due to the negligence of some people that were ‘supposed’ to be there for us in the first place.
“It's hard for us to sit and watch the event we were slated to compete in go live on TV. This is heartbreaking. We never want this to happen to the next generation ever again and that's why we have come peacefully,” she continued.
The athlete went on to express how disheartening it is to miss a competition that they already qualified for.
“The truth has to be said. We can't keep quiet forever. The battle can't go on forever. It's time for us to speak up and end this selfishness, incompetence and cruelty. All we wanted to do is compete with all hope but this has literally messed up with our minds. We see other countries compete and we have other choice than to WISH WE COULD COMPETE. It's really disheartening to wish for what we already qualify to have.”
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