It was another show of shame for Team Nigeria on Friday in Rio — after the late arrival of the U-23 football team on Thursday — as the country’s contingent, led by table tennis star Funke Oshonaike, filed out for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games on Friday dressed in tracksuits.
The opening ceremony of the Olympics is usually used by participating teams to display their country’s traditional wears and culture before over one billion viewers globally but Team Nigeria marched with tracksuits in Rio after the official kits earmarked for the outing did not arrive in Rio on time, according to reports.
Alexander Wolff, a sports writer covering the Games tweeted, “Nigeria, marching in sweats because official outfits didn’t make it to Rio. Can we agree that they’re a country to pull for these two weeks?”
In the past, Team Nigeria were known for their colourful outfits, which showcased the country’s rich culture, at such international sporting events.
The original attire for the Games was actually made by Nigerian designer, David Bowler, and was showcased to President Muhammadu Buhari in July, when Team Nigeria paid him a visit.
Our correspondent learnt that with Bowler’s design the male athletes would have appeared in typical South South dressing spotting hats with the women’s uniform the contrasting wear of a Nigerian woman with modern attitude in her long cape dress, tying a turban.
Sydney 2000 Olympics gold medallist Enefiong Udo-Obong was confounded that Bowler’s design was abandoned for the tracksuits in Brazil, suggesting it might not be unconnected with corrupt practices by officials.
“The style (of Bowler’s design) may have left questions in the lips of many but they were gorgeous and proper. It would have showcased our ladies as beautiful people and our men as gentlemen. It would have sold our local designer to the world as our version or answer to Gucci and Calvin Klein and the rest. Instead we did not. Despite months of sleepless nights to design the attire and lots of money to make samples; despite the fashion parade the (sports) minister did to showcase the uniform with athletes to model it to the President, we did not use the smartly made dresses,” Udo-Obong wrote in talkwithenee.blogspot.com.ng.
“The reason why? Someone decided that instead of paying the designer money for mass production, he could get kickbacks if he just gave a contract to his stooge. So, we neglected the designs which we did not appreciate because it was given free to us by the designer and hurriedly assembled the carpenter-type tracksuits. We did not even deem it fit, if we wanted tracksuits to get from Yali-Yali, our own brand made by former sprint queen, Mary Onyali. At least we would have promoted something Nigerian.”
Meanwhile, Oshonaike and Edem Offiong crashed out of Round 1 of the table tennis women’s singles event on Saturday. Oshonaike, Team Nigeria’s assistant captain, was beaten 4-2 by Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico while Offiong lost 4-1 to Belarusian Viktoria Pavlovich.
The national U-23 football team will play Sweden in their second Group B game today in Manaus. The Nigerians lead the group with three points after Thursday’s 5-4 defeat of Japan despite arriving late to the match venue.