Nigeria’s hope of qualifying for the badminton event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is under serious threat.
The Nigerian team is being denied the opportunity of featuring at the All Africa Senior Badminton Championship, which begins this Monday in Cairo Egypt.
Nigeria are the defending champions and require further points from the championship to qualify their players for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
But as at the weekend, the Egyptian Embassy in Nigeria has not granted the players with visas to proceed to Egypt and may not be able to feature in the championship.
Nigeria is the leading nation in African badminton and are followed by Egypt which apparently want to deny the featuring of the Nigerian team.
At the African Games in Rabat six months ago, Nigeria topped the medals table in badminton ahead of second-placed Egypt. While the Nigerian team had eight medals comprising of two gold, three silver and three bronze, Egypt had six made up of a gold, a silver and four bronze medals.
The absence of Nigeria at the Cairo championship offers Egypt a near-walkover.
According to the President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria, (BFN), Francis Orbih, foul play is being suspected as the Egyptian Embassy has not given the team the required visa.
The team of 12 players and three coaches had planned to travel last Friday to be able to train and also have a day rest ahead of the championship on Monday.
The non-issuance of visa has gravely affected the players. In addition, the team will have to pay penalties for the flight tickets not utilized last Friday.
Egyptian Embassy is yet to grant the country’s contingent visa to the All Africa Senior Championships in Egypt in Cairo which begins on Monday the 10th of February 2020.
Orbih, the BFN chieftain, remarked that the federation considered the treatment meted to the Nigerian team as alarming and shocking noting that it is capable of derailing Nigeria’s plan of qualifying for the Olympics.
He said: “The BFN submitted the Team’s application for visa on the 28th of January 2020 with all the supporting and necessary documents, yet the embassy has refused to respond which has fueled suspicion of deliberate sabotage and foul play by the embassy.
“This negates all tenets of Fair Play and Sportsmanship.
“The action or inaction by the embassy has ensured that the Nigerian team will miss out on the Team event in the Championship thereby losing its chance of qualifying for the Thomas & Uber Cups,” he added.
The Federation expressed hope that the intervention of the Badminton Confederation of Africa (BCA) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development would compel the embassy to issue the visas by Monday the 10th of February and enable the team proceed to Egypt and compete in the Individual Championship which serves as one of the Olympics qualifiers.
The full team consist Eneojo Joseph Abah (Captain), Anuoluwapo Opeyori Juwon, Godwin Richard Olofua , Aliyu Alhaji Shehu, Isaac Murphee Minaphee , Babatunde Bankole Timilehin , Dorcas Ajoke Adesokan (Asst.Captain), Grace Gabriel, Deborah Ukeh-Divine, Sofiyat Arinola Obanishola, Ramatu Yakubu and Ruth Chinenye Ibere. The coaches are:- Senior Team Head Coach, Ben Orakpo, Assistant Coaches George H.Shitta and Susan Ideh-Agboolah.
The delegation is led by the President which includes the Vice President, Chairman Technical committee, the team Manager, Technical Director, Secretary General and two umpires invited by the BCA.
Nigeria is currently ranked number one team on the continent while Egypt is its closest rival.