Eyebrows have been raised following different attire worn by members of Team Nigeria contingent in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games despite AFA Sports announced as the country’s official kits supplier, Saturday PUNCH reports.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had on Monday in Abuja unveiled AFA Sports as the official apparel of Team Nigeria to the Games, a day before their departure to their training camp in Kizarasu, Japan.
However, several videos and pictures showed many officials were wearing different attire and sportswear brands.
Contingents from other countries – including South Africa – who arrived in Japan at the same time with Nigeria were however uniformly kitted.
Pictures of Uganda, Italy and Australia teams arriving for the Olympics also showed them in their official kits.
A picture shared by the team after the visit of the Nigerian Ambassador to Japan, Abubakar Moriki, to the team’s camp, showed many of the athletes and officials in different attire, with one of the officials in the picture wearing an Arsenal jersey.
Many other videos shared by Nigerian athletes in Japan also showed them in different sportswear like Nike and Adidas.
In a video which had quartermiler Patience Okon-George, Imaobong Nse Uko and sprinter Grace Nwokocha at the Kizarasu camp, none of them had on the national kits.
Prior to the Tokyo Games, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria and Nigeria Basketball Federation had been enmeshed in kits controversy.
While the Shehu Gusau-led board of the AFN had signed a deal with PUMA to kit Nigerian athletes at major competitions, the sports ministry insisted that Nigerian athletes and officials would not wear the kits at the Olympics.
The Gusau-led board, which had taken delivery of the PUMA kits are planning on sending them down to the athletes and officials in Tokyo, but the ministry, through the Tonobok Okowa-led board of the AFN, are planning on getting another set of kits for the country.
While the kits that would be used by the track and field athletes have reportedly not been finalised, our correspondent learnt plans were in top gear to send down locally made kits to Tokyo.
“This kits issue is a big embarrassment to Nigeria, till now, we have not been able to finalise on our kits. Plans are in top gear to send kits down to Tokyo, but I can assure you that the athletes won’t use PUMA,” an official in the Okowa-led AFN told Saturday PUNCH on the condition of anonymity.
First Vice President of the Gusau-led AFN, Sunday Adeleye, however warned that if sports minister Sunday Dare insisted on the PUMA kits not being used, it could scare foreign firms from entering into agreements with the country’s sports federations.
“If the minister insists that they shouldn’t wear the PUMA kits at the Olympics, he risks litigation from PUMA. Other companies who would love to enter into any agreement with federations in Nigeria will also be wary of falling ion this kind of situation,” Adeleye told Saturday PUNCH.
The NBBF also had their Olympics kits, which were donated by Peak Sports Products, seized by the Nigeria Customs Services after they were asked to pay N35m to clear them.
The PUNCH reported on Friday that the kits were eventually released three months at the Apapa wharf, Lagos following the intervention of the sports minister.
Special Adviser, Media, to the sports minister, John Joshua-Akanji, however told our correspondent that all the athletes in Japan were given the national kits.
“Some of the athletes already left for Japan before the kits arrived, but as the second batch was leaving, they took the kits of the first batch with them. If the athletes who have the kits already decided not to put the kits on, it’s their choice, not that they were not given the kits.
“Even when we gave the athletes kits for a visit to the Villa, some of them decided not to wear them. Are you going to flog them? If you look at the pictures at the Villa, you will notice that some of them were not wearing their kits, they left them in the bus. The day they were departing for Tokyo, they gave everyone kits to wear but some of them didn’t wear them,” Joshua-Akanji told Saturday PUNCH.