Team Nigeria returned from the Rio Olympics with a bronze medal, won on the last but one day by the U-23 football team. The bronze won made the Rio Games better than the London Olympics, where Nigeria failed to win a medal.
But the bronze did not come cheap when one considers what was spent in preparing Team Nigeria and prosecuting the Games.
How much was spent on preparing the team for the Rio Olympics is shrouded in secrecy as there were doubts as to the actual amount released.
The government, it was learnt, released N2.9 billion early 2015 for the All Africa Games that held that year in Congo Brazzaville and preparation for the Rio Olympics. Sources revealed that the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC) spent N2.3 billion preparing and prosecuting the All Africa Games leaving a paltry N600 million for the Rio Games preparation.
With President Muhammadu Buhari refusing to release additional funds in 2016 for preparation of Team Nigeria for the Rio Games, unless the N2.9 billion released in 2015 was properly accounted for, the Rio Olympics suffered serious hiccups.
The government, however, released N500 million for participation in the Games, while Solomon Dalung, the Sports Minister, had requested for additional N2 billion. How much was finally released is still a matter of speculation.
However, compared to London Olympics, the government made available for both preparation and participation N2.3 billion that produced no medal.
President Buhari ordered immediate release of the money in July during the official handover of Team Nigeria to the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC) at the State House, Abuja.
Responding then, Dalung assured the president and Nigerians of the athletes’ resolve to win medals without cutting corners.
“We are going to represent the country well and win medals without cutting corners.”
Team Nigeria prosecuted the Rio Olympics with 86 athletes. Each athlete was paid $150 per day as camp allowance,
while each official got $200 per day.
While efforts to get the number of officials to the Games were fruitless, Independent gathered from a sports ministry source that the number of officials and their cronies to Rio were about 160.
We learnt on good authority before the Games that top and low cadre sports ministry staffers were regular visitors at websites applying for Brazil visa. We learnt that two-third of the officials remained in Brazil until the end of the Games, with their allowances fully paid. The allowances to the officials were not part of the estacode to top government officials like the sports minister and his Permanent Secretary, among others.
Taking it from half of the officials, which was 80 (on approximation), it means that the officials were paid N5.08 million daily. And that will amount to N106.9 million in the three weeks that the event lasted (going by the current official rate of dollar at N318).
The above figure comes given that, of the 160 ‘officials’ at the event, some of their cronies and others left before the close of the Games, leaving about 80 of them; according to a source.
The exact amount spent on the athletes could also not be ascertained because some of them crashed out and left the Games early, while some stayed for the upward of three weeks with daily camp allowances of $150 paid to them.
From the calculation, the country might have spent above N1.5 billion to win a single medal at the Games, which incidentally was not even gold.
Reacting to the development, Gara-Gombe, former Gombe State Football Association chairman, said:
“At the London Olympics, where we had our worst outing, we had a lot of people who had no business there but they were there. I saw more than 250 people who went to London, some with their families.
“The same thing could have happened in the last Games in Brazil and only God knows the cost of such adventure and jamboree,” he said.
Where does Nigeria go from here after such a huge sum was spent to win only one bronze medal?
According to Kipchoge Keino, the chairman of Kenya National Olympic Committee, Team Kenya budgeted and spent $5 million (USD) for Rio. The country placed 16th on the overall medals table with six gold, six silver and a bronze.
Kenya invariably spent about N1. 6 billion, aside official estacode and camp allowances though, to win 13 medals, including six gold medals.
In the next four years, just like it happened in 2012, the country will still budget a huge sum with little or nothing to show for it, if adequate preparation and planning are distanced.
Efe Ajagba, Nigeria’s sole boxer at the Games said of the situation: “It was so bad; there was no way Nigeria could have achieved more than it did because the condition was not ok; besides, the funds were not released on time for training.
“This is my first Olympics and I did not have a sparing partner. I did not have anybody to train with, so I relied on my strength and what we saw of my opponents in their previous fights to prepare for the fight.”
To Ajagba, the problem was poor preparation.
“You cannot compare me, who trained for less than three months, with some of my opponents who had three years support to prepare for the Olympics.”
Oshonaike, Nigeria’s table tennis star, blamed the obvious failure on the authorities, accusing them of failed promises, which if had been kept would have aided Nigeria’s medal haul.
“I quit my job to concentrate on training for the Games. Even the hotel bills I incurred while in Nigeria to join the team has not been refunded to me.
“They told us to purchase our tickets from our stations overseas to Nigeria so that everybody will travel together to Rio. The arrangement was that they will return the ticket fares on arrival in Nigeria, but now they are beginning to sing a new song.”
It is obvious that the bronze Nigeria won was the costliest medals in the history of Olympic Games.

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