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UAE bars Nigerian athletes from partaking in world swimming championships

  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday barred Nigerian athletes from participating in the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships in Du...


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday barred Nigerian athletes from participating in the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships in Dubai.

According to PUNCH, the athletes and their representatives said they were denied access to take part in the competition on the order of UAE authorities.

The athletes were also quoted as saying that they had arrived in Dubai to participate in the event but were disallowed from representing their country even though they did not travel from Nigeria.

“On sighting our Nigerian passports, the UAE officials treated us with disdain,” a female athlete was quoted to have said.

It is understood that the development had forced some of the athletes to withdraw from the competition.

Some of the athletes also said they were denied access to see their Nigerian officials.

“The officials were not even allowed to leave their hotel rooms and competition started yesterday,” another athlete said.

One of the Nigerian officials also said: “It is probably important we inform the Nigerian media of the treatment being faced by the Nigerian Swimming Team here in Abu Dhabi (UAE) at the ongoing FINA Short Course World Championships.

“Essentially, the whole team has been forced to withdraw from the competition, despite being vaccinated, doing multiple PCR tests, and not departing from Nigeria.

“The reason for the team being withdrawn was because one of the coaches tested positive for COVID-19, yet the officials, local government and FINA all collectively decided to remove everyone in the team from the competition, deeming them as close contacts.

“In one case, one Nigerian swimmer travelled from the USA just yesterday morning, was fully vaccinated, had all the required tests, didn’t even have any contact with the coach that tested positive, yet he was not allowed to compete.

 “For Habibat Abiola, she came from Russia, didn’t have contact with this coach, but again, can’t compete

“So, all these Nigerians travelling from different places around the world, being denied the opportunity to represent Nigeria here in UAE.

“I can assure you, if they were Europeans or Americans, they would definitely allow them to compete.”

The development comes amid the lingering diplomatic row between Nigeria and the UAE.

It remains to be seen if the disqualification of Nigerian athletes is connected to the issue between both nations.

The organisers of the 2021 FINA and the ministry of youth and sports development are yet to speak on the matter as of the time of this report.

The Nigeria Aquatics Federation previously known as the Nigeria Swimming Federation could also not be reached for comments as the board of the federation had been dissolved.


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