President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the Nigerian contingent to the 2016 Rio Olympics to be true ambassadors of the country and to prioritize integrity and honesty ahead of the quest to win medals.
The President gave the charge during a ceremony at the State House in which the athletes were officially handed over to Nigerian Olympics Committee and President Buhari was invested as the grand patron of the NOC.
He commended the athletes for their “outstanding performances” which qualified them to fly the country’s flag in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, assuring them that funds budgeted for the Games would be released without delay.
He however urged officials who have no important role to play during the games to stay back and cheer the team from home.
“We are all aware of our nation’s dwindling revenue and the current global economic challenges. It is therefore imperative that funds provided for the Games are utilized judiciously. In this regard, any official who has no business at the Games should stay at home to cheer the team from here and if they must travel to the Olympics, they should do so at their own expense,” he said.
The President advised the athletes and officials not to engage in acts that could dent the image of the country.
“I want to charge all athletes and team officials going to the Olympic Games to be worthy ambassadors of our great country, both on the field of play and outside the sporting arena,
“The eyes of the global community are on you and as such, you should desist from acts that could dent the image of our great country, Nigeria,
“You are very aware of recent doping allegations which cast aspersions not only on the individual athletes but on their home countries. Please keep Nigeria clean,” the President charged.
Buhari wished team Nigeria success during the outing urging them to “Please bring as many medals back home as a result of your efforts and endeavour,
“But remember it is more important to compete and acquit your country as a fair sporting nation than to bring a pack of medals as a result of bending the rules and denying the Games of fair competition.”
The President assured them of the support of all Nigerians as they strive to make themselves and the country proud.
Nigeria has a total of 78 athletes comprising of 49 male and 29 female athletes, to compete in 10 different sport disciplines.
A good number of Nigerian athletes have also qualified for the Paralympic Games, which comes up immediately after the Olympic Games in Brazil.