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Lack of fund threatens Nigeria’s historic participation at Youth Winter Olympics

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Nigeria, the only African country to qualify for the 2024 Youth Winter Olympics, is facing a major challenge: raising enough fund to send its team to Gangwon, South Korea.

The President of the Nigeria Curling Federation, Danmola Daniel revealed on Friday, that the Federation has been running from pillar to post in search of funds to organise a camping exercise for the Nigerian team ahead of the competition in South Korea but with no success.

He described the situation as disheartening while calling on the relevant authorities to urgently come to the aid of the team meant to represent Nigeria and by extension Africa at next year’s Youth Winter Olympics.

“We have done all we could trying to solicit for funds in and around the country and we couldn’t,” said the Nigerian Curling Federation boss.

“This is an amazing thing because we are not just talking about anyhow youth games, it is the Youth Winter Olympics. If it is football I’m sure money would come from every angle for that. An event such as the youth Winter Olympics should be encouraged because these kids were picked from every part of the country not that they had experience before or that people from the diaspora have come to play.”

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The Nigerian team qualified for the Youth Winter Olympics last December, but they need to train and compete in Finland and South Korea before the games begin in January.

With only 60 days left until the games, the team is running out of time.

“They qualified since last year December and this is the winter season from September to March and this is the time they should train,” Mr Danmola said. “Now we only have 60 days to go and in this 60-day window we only have one month which is December for them to be properly trained and camped for them to be able to fly to South Korea and compete yet there is no help.”

The Nigerian Curling Federation is appealing to the public and private organizations for help.

They are also hoping that the government will come through with some funding.

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“We plead with everyone to see how they can please help team Nigeria curling to get to a training camp in Finland and also in Gangwon to represent the country being the only African country that will be in South Korea in any discipline,” the Curling Federation boss said.

“This is a remarkable achievement and we look forward to receiving help from any quarters.”

Nigeria’s participation in the Youth Winter Olympics would be a historic achievement as the country gradually continues making inroads into winter sports.

Despite what appears to be a hopeless situation, the Nigerian Curling Federation is hoping that the public and private sectors will come together to help make this historic achievement possible.

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Olympics

Djokovic confirmed for Paris Olympics

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French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 3, 2024 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his fourth round match against Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Novak Djokovic will compete at this year’s Olympic Games in Paris, the Olympic Committee of Serbia has announced.

The 24-times Grand Slam winner will be attending his fifth Olympics since his first in 2008 when he won a bronze medal.

The 37-year-old had knee surgery last month after he was forced to pull out of the French Open with an injury sustained in a fourth-round win that cast doubt over his chances of playing at Wimbledon and at the Paris Games.

World number three Djokovic will look to end his title drought in 2024 after winning three out of the four Grand Slams last year as he chases an elusive Olympic gold medal at the Paris Games in which Spain’s Rafa Nadal will also compete.

Dusan Lajovic, ranked 56th, will also play for Serbia in the July 27-Aug. 4 Olympic tournament at Roland Garros.

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-Reuters

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Mbappe rules out playing at Paris Games after Real Madrid move

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Kylian Mbappe confirmed on Sunday he will not play for France’s Olympic team at the Paris Games as his new club Real Madrid are against the idea.

The 25-year-old said in March that he was keen on playing at his home Games but since the Olympic soccer tournament is not on FIFA’s calendar clubs are not obliged to release their players.

Mbappe was not included in a 25-man preliminary squad for the Olympics earlier this month, though head coach Thierry Henry left the door open.

“My club’s position was very clear, so from that moment on, I think I (knew) I won’t be taking part in the Games,” Mbappe told reporters ahead of Monday’s Group D match against Austria at Euro 2024.

“That’s just the way it is, and I understand that too. I’m joining a new team in September, so it’s not the best way to start an adventure.

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“I’m going to wish this French team all the best. I’m going to watch every game. I hope they’ll win the gold medal.”

The men’s Olympic football competition begins on July 24, 10 days after the European Championships final, and ends on Aug. 9.

-Reuters

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Olympics

Messi says he won’t play for Argentina at Paris Games

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Lionel Messi said he will not be part of Argentina’s squad for the Paris Olympics as he is no longer at an age where he can play in every tournament.

The 36-year-old Inter Miami forward is currently preparing for Argentina’s Copa America title defence, which runs from June 20 to July 14 in the United States.

In February, under-23 manager Javier Mascherano said Messi, who won gold with Argentina at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, had an invitation to join the squad for Paris.

“I talked to Mascherano and the truth is we both understood the situation,” Messi told ESPN.

“It’s hard (to think about the Olympics right now) because we’re in Copa America. It would be two, three straight months of not being with the club, and more than anything I’m not at an age to be in everything.

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“I have to choose carefully, and it would be too much to play two straight tournaments. I’ve been very lucky to play in the Olympics, of winning it together with (Mascherano).

“It was a wonderful experience on a football level. Olympics, U20, memories I’ll never forget.”

The men’s football tournament at the Olympics takes place in July and August. Teams are allowed three overage players in their squads.

-Reuters

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