Nigerian athletes have been disallowed from participating in the 15th World Swimming Championships 2021 holding in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.
The athletes and their representatives claimed that they were denied access to participate in the competition by authorities of the UAE on Thursday, according to Punch.
The athletes said they arrived in UAE from European countries, not Nigeria but they 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 affected athletes were; Philip Adejumo and Abiola Ogunbanwo.
Though the organisers of the championships 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 report also noted that frustrated Nigerian athletes withdrew from competition, while some of them complained that they 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 Punch.
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“The reason for the team being withdrawn was because one of the coaches tested positive for COVID-19, yet the officials, local government and FINA all collectively decided to remove everyone in the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.
“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.
“For Habibat Abiola, she came from Russia, didn’t have contact with this coach, but again, can’t compete.
“So, all these Nigerians travelling from different places around the world, being denied the opportunity to represent Nigeria here in UAE; I can assure you, if they were Europeans or Americans, they would definitely allow them to compete.”
SaharaReporters, New York