Buhari charges athletes to Rio Olympics Games to win medals

By Wahab Akanji, Abuja 

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerian athletes to the forthcoming Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil to put in their best and win gold medals in the various events they are competing in.But he warned them to desist from performance enhancing drugs and other activities that could dent the image of Nigeria.

Buhari spoke in Abuja while officially handing over Team Nigeria to the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC) and his investiture as the Grand Patron of the NOC. 

The event at the old Banquet Hall of the State House came 17 days to the commencement of the Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil holding from 5th to 21st of next month. 

He said: “Go for Gold in Rio! Go Team Nigeria! Go! Please bring as many medals back home as a result of your efforts and endeavour. But remember it is more important to compete and acquit your country as a fair sporting nation than to bring a pack of medals as a result of bending the rules and denying the Games of fair competition. 

“As the Federal Government formally hands over our athletes and officials for the Rio Olympics to the Nigeria Olympic Committee today, I want to charge all athletes and team officials going to the Olympic Games to be worthy ambassadors of our great country, both on the field of play and outside the sporting arena. 

“The eyes of the global community are on you and as such, you should desist from acts that could dent the image of our great country, Nigeria.” He said 

Reminding the athletes of recent doping allegations which cast aspersions on individual athletes and their home countries, he said: “Please keep Nigeria clean.” 

The menace of drug use in sports, he said, is threatening the core foundation of sports and has led to embarrassing situations and sanctions of some great sporting nations. 

“I therefore urge you to keep the integrity of our nation intact by competing clean and fair at the Olympic Games.” He said 

He warned officials who do not have any business in Rio to stay away or go there on their expense. 

He said: “We are all aware of our nation’s dwindling revenue and the current global economic challenges. It is therefore imperative that funds provided for the Games are utilized judiciously. 

“In this regard, any official who has no business at the Games should stay at home to cheer the team from here and if they must travel to the Olympics, they should do so at their own expense.” He added 

He congratulated the athletes for qualifying for nine sporting events at the championship. 

He said: “Nigeria has 49 qualified male athletes and 29 female athletes, giving us a total of 78 athletes in 10 sport disciplines.  

“Aside the sports that we have qualified for the Olympic Games, I have equally been informed that our athletes have qualified athletes for the Paralympic Games, which comes up immediately after the Olympic Games in Brazil. 

“I therefore want to use this opportunity to personally congratulate all these worthy athletes on their qualifications for these Games, even in the face of daunting challenges in their preparations.” He said.

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