The U23 Olympic team may again not travel out of the United States today (Tuesday) as announced by the sports ministry on Monday.
A statement from the office of the sports minister Solomon Dalung on Monday had said that a chartered flight would take the team from their camp in Atlanta USA to Brazil but checks conducted by The PUNCH on Monday confirmed that payment has yet to be made for the service despite the assurance given.
A worried General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation Sanusi spent a greater part of Monday at the sports ministry to ensure that the transfer was effected for the payment for the flight. He however decline to confirm if payment was made or not when our correspondent spoke with him on Monday night.
“I suggest you call the NOC; he’s in a better position to know the exact situation,” he explained.
The players were originally scheduled to fly out of Atlanta for Rio on Friday. A fresh Monday date was announced but that also failed to materialise.
The camp in Atlanta has witnessed challenging welfare conditions.
The Minister, who is in the United States of America to visit the football and basketball teams ahead of the games, said he had been properly briefed about the state of affairs in the players’ camp by the captain of the team Mikel Obi and the Consulate in Atlanta, according a report made by a ministerial aide.
The minister on Monday assured that arrangements had been concluded to airlift the team to Manaus, Brazil venue of their first game in a chartered plane. Dalung said clearance had also been obtained from the International Olympic Committee in Rio to facilitate a smooth flight operation.
The Minister again restated that the Ministry was not carried along for the camping programme for the Games and then threatened to deal with those who have spoken with the media over the situation in camp.
“There is no doubt that the ministry was not considered while plans were being made for the Olympic football team. Nevertheless, we shall intervene to remedy the situation. I have appealed to the captain to assume control of the team and restore sanity. For officials who decided to violate the code of their profession and take to media rampage to secure cheap blackmail, their conduct will definitely be measured with existing rules,” Dalung said.
Their opening match is against Japan on Friday by 2am Nigerian time. Sweden and Colombia are the other teams in their qualifying group.