The Ministry of Youths and Sports on Monday in Abuja said it would later this week send flight tickets to foreign-based athletes billed for the Rio Olympic Games.

This is according to a statement by Nneka Ikem-Anibeze, the Special Assistant (Media) to Youth and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung.

It quoted Dalung as saying this during a meeting on Monday in Abuja with the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Solomon Ogba.

The meeting was also attended by staff of the ministry’s Federation of Elite Athletes Department (FEAD).

The statement said the Minister had summoned both Ogba and the FEAD staff to establish the author of the e-mail purportedly sent to athletes on behalf of the ministry.

It said Dalung had at the meeting reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring that Nigerian athletes were well taken care of ahead of the Olympics, describing the mail as mischievous.

“The author of that e-mail lacks the authority to write on behalf of the Ministry or even the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“At no time did we ask our athletes to seek for funds to travel, knowing too well that athletes are very fragile people to be managed.

“There are so many things that come to play in determining their success. It’s not just skills, training and determination.

“The psychology of an athlete at the point of contest is also very important. So, if you ask them to look for money to buy air tickets, they will be thinking how sincere could you be in terms of planning for Rio.

“The said letter which generated a lot of negative reactions is not the position of the ministry.

“We have a responsibility to transport our athletes to and from anywhere they are, because they are on national assignment.

“Whosoever published that e-mail and his motive will definitely be investigated,’’ Dalung was quoted as saying.

Team Nigeria to the Rio Games will depart on Aug. 1 through Ethiopia Airlines.

The Games Village for the Aug. 5 to Aug. 21 Olympics opened on Sunday.


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