By Monsurat Olatunji
Nigeria’s hope of qualifying for the badminton event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is currently hanging in the balance as the 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.
As at yesterday evening, the team made up of 12 players (six male and six female players) and 3 Coaches were yet to be granted visa by the Egyptian Embassy in Abuja to the chagrin of the President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) Francis Orbih Esq.
Orbih stated that the BFN considers the treatment 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 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.