By Muhyideen Jimoh
The Federal Government says it has completed arrangement for Team Nigeria, comprised of 462 athletes and officials, to depart Nigeria for the African Games in Morocco on Aug. 15.
Mr Olusade Adesola, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja at a media briefing.
The contingent would be transported to the Games through a chartered flight, Air Peace in line with international best practice.
Adesola said that the athletes who had been in closed camps in six states since July 5, would be participating in 22 sports at the Games.
“The Federations have conducted series of close and open trials to assess the athletes’ level of preparation and select possible podium athletes to represent the nation at the Games.
“Nigeria will present a contingent size of 462 athletes, Coaches, medical and administrative support staff to the Games,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the sports with the highest contingents include: Athletics- 51 athletes/6 coaches, football- 36 players/10 coaches, Handball-28 players/4 coaches, Volleyball (indoor) -24 athletes/4 coaches.
Others are Weightlifting-20 athletes/2 coaches, Taekwondo and Wrestling-16 athletes/2 coaches each and Cycling-14 athletes/3 coaches among the 22 individual and team sports Nigeria will be participating in.
A further breakdown shows:153 male athletes, 155 female athletes, 58 coaches, 58 team officials and 38 other officials and dignitaries to make up the 462 contingent.
The Permanent Secretary however, emphasised the need for the athletes to compete clean without any form of doping while striving to top the medals table.
He reiterated government’s commitment to their welfare and assured that all issues of bonuses, training grants and return ticket for foreign athletes had been sorted out.
“I want to re-assure that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved funds to pay allowances of athletes and officials while at the Games village and off-shore training grants to desirable athletes.
“Return tickets for foreign athletes and wining bonuses have also been provided, ” he said.
NAN reports that the 12th African Games is to hold in Rabat, Morocco, between Aug. 19 and Aug 31.
Team Nigeria finished second in the last edition of the Games in Congo Brazzaville in 2015.