Coaches and sports administrators yesterday said that the country would be making a mistake if it failed to take part in the 2016 Olympic Games because of Team Nigeria's woeful performance in the just-concluded London Games.
Nigeria failed to win a medal at the London 2012 Games which held between July 27 and Aug. 12.
The next Olympic Games will be hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.
Henry Nwosu, a former Nigerian international, said on telephone in Lagos that failure to participate in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games would affect the country's sports development.
"Not participating will not do us any good in terms of sports development; rather it will negatively affect the growth of our sports.
"What we need to do is to imbibe the spirit of early preparation, so as to avoid a recurrence of what we saw at the London Games," he said.
The head coach of Raptors Basketball Academy, Lagos, Charles Ibeziako, said that four years was a good period to develop athletes, if the right conditions were put in place.
He said that even if the country decided to focus on the 2020 Olympics and forget about 2016, it would still not change anything, if the right things were not put in place.
"As a coach I can guarantee you that four years can turn things around for good, but we need to put in the right impetus for progress.
"It will not help if we do that. Even if we decide to focus on 2020, as long as we don't do the right things, we will not succeed," Ibeziako said.
He added that sports administrators needed to wake up to their call and advised the government to appoint only persons who are passionate about sports to positions, before any positive change can come about.
"Sports administrators need to wake up to their responsibilities for things to work out and only passionate administrators who know about sports must be appointed to positions," he said.
Nigerian Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) Secretary, Segun Oguntade, said it would be wrong not to participate in the 2016 Olympics.
He said that what needed to be done was to go back to the drawing board and start preparations for the next Games.
"It will be a wrong decision because Team Nigeria's failure calls for the athletes to be better engaged in competitions to enable them to grow.
"We need to go back to the drawing board and start early preparations for the next Olympic Games. That is the only way we can get it right," he said.
Blessing Ibrahim, a triple jumper, said that preparations for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics should commence immediately.
"We can still perform better in the 2016 Olympics by starting preparations from now. Immediately the athletes arrive in the country, they should begin camping.
"And other training programmes like training tours and participation in national competitions should be included in their preparations," she said.
Team Nigeria's performance at the London Games has been described by sports enthusiasts as the worst in many years because they could not win a medal. NAN