21 August 2012

Nigeria: N2.6 Billion Budget for Olympics, Paralympics Not Enough - Umar

Photo: Vanguard
Nigerian Paralympic Powerlifter Ruel Ishaku

Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) president, Tijjani Umar yesterday said the N2.6b given to Team Nigeria to prosecute the just concluded London 2012 Olympic Games and the forthcoming Paralympics was grossly inadequate.

Umar, who spoke to reporters in Abuja, said the budgetary allocation for the two events was a far cry from winning medals for the country, compare to the millions of dollars spent by other countries to prepare their athletes for the global sport fiesta.

According to him, Team Great Britain for instance through its Lottery Fund spent 300,000 pounds as insurance cover for only one of its NBA players during the just concluded Olympics.

"I consider it laughable that we expected magic with N2.6b for both the Olympics and Paralympics. The truth is that Nigeria has not started in the area of big funding to ensure winning of medals. The money spent by Team GB on their basketball athletes as insurance alone is incredible. When converted to naira, it is more than what Team Nigeria as a whole got to prepare for the Olympics.

"Insurance cover for only one of the NBA players on Team Great Britain cost 300,000 pounds while investment to prepare each sport Team Great Britain featured over four years amounted to about 30 million pounds. The United Kingdom government is to spend 124 million pounds annually to prepare its teams for Rio, in 2016."

Speaking further, Umar urged Nigerians to appreciate the effort of the athletes especially basketball players who placed 10th in the overall classification involving 12 teams in their first Olympics appearance.

"Yet the Team GB basketball team came 9th only a slot ahead of Nigeria which placed 10th on the overall table. Medals are not cheap to win; they must be properly invested in. The insurance of one Team GB basketball player for the Olympics when converted into naira will tell you the magnitude of investments for medals. The Team GB which has been underachievers in the Olympics before this edition spent billions of pounds to execute the Olympics and prepare their athletes, and the whole world have seen the results."

Commending D'Tigers for their performances at the Olympic Games, Umar said Nigerians should understand that the basketball team was only six weeks old competing with teams that have been together for minimum 8 years.

"We were not in the Olympics to win the gold. We knew it would be impossible but planned that it be a platform for building for the Nations Cup in Cote d'Ivoire next year, World Cup in Spain and Olympics in Rio de Jenairo in four years time.

"We came 9th overall in our first qualification for the Olympics, we would have ended better but for the wide margin we lost against Team USA. As far as I am concerned, we got the ticket to play in the Olympics during the Afrobasket in Madagascar when we came 3rd and picked bronze. I commend the National Sports Commission for releasing funds for the team to play the qualifiers in Venezuela", he concluded.

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