Paris 2024 Olympics – My Olympics Story

I have just made up my mind to attend the Paris Olympic Games this summer.It will be my first time at the Olympics and not as an athlete. In 1976, at the Montreal Olympics in Canada, I attended as an athlete but did not participate. Along with the rest of the world, I tasted the incursion of politics into sport, and the first deployment of sports diplomacy in international affairs. The names of all the athletes from 30 countries that were involved in the boycott of the games were not recorded in the International directory of Olympians at the International Olympic Committee, IOC.

In 1980, without officially qualifying for the Moscow Games, but benefitting from the crisis that followed Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, leading to the boycott by several Western countries led by the USA, the Green Eagles were invited to the Moscow Olympics. I led the Nigerian national football team and doubled as co-captain (with AhmeedAdio) of the overall contingent to become a registered member of the exclusive club of Olympians.

I would have attended the 1996 Games in Atlanta, USA, as manager of ChiomaAjunwa and Charity Opara. Unfortunately, when I applied for a visa to the Games from my base in the UK at the time, the interview date given at the American embassy was weeks after the Games would have ended. That’s how I sat at home in London, and missed the opportunity of attending the Olympics as a manager of athletes. My two wards won a Gold and a Silver medal.

At the 2010 Games in London. I was at ‘home’. I watched the Games as a tourist, attending a few events live from the stands, but most from the giant screens at the Nigerian village set up for the huge Nigerian population in the UK.

During the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, I became inventive. I did the seemingly impossible. I became an invisible ‘fly on the wall’ reporting from Nigeria everything about the Nigerian contingent at the games with the deployment of technology and the collaboration of athletes and officials at the games.

Now, Paris 2024 Games are here.
I have a strong feeling Nigeria will come away with several medals. The feeling is strong. There are some obvious athletes in the winning zone already.

Having said that, the spirit of the Olympics is more in participating than in winning. That’s why as many athletes as have achieved the qualifying times and distances should be given the opportunity to experience the Olympics. I hope Nigeria will take all the athletes that attain the qualifying standards to Paris 2024.

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