Nigerian boxers will miss the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after the cancellation of the 2021 World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Paris in June, due to COVID-19 concerns.
The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday said plans were changed because of “current challenges to international travel and related restrictions in many countries” during the coronavirus pandemic.
Boxers worldwide were to compete for 53 places in the Tokyo lineup at a tournament in Paris in June.
Those places will now be allocated equally across continents by world rankings based on results since 2017, the IOC said.
Nigerian boxers had been hoping to attend the qualifiers, with some calling for early preparations and camping in order to see them do well in Paris.
However, head coach of the Nigeria Boxing Federation, Anthony Konyegwachie, said the news was disappointing for him and the country’s boxers who have toiled on a daily basis in order to book a spot at the Games.
“The slots will be divided among the continents; the last African qualifiers will be used for the allocation of slots in Africa, but unfortunately we didn’t attend.
“It’s painful that none of our boxers will be in Japan, but there’s nothing we can do about it. It is very frustrating. A lot of my boxers have called and are crying because most of them trained everyday, hoping that we will go there and shock the world but the news has disoriented many of them,” Konyegwachie told The PUNCH.
Nigerian boxers first featured at the Olympics in Rome in 1960 and have competed in every edition of the global sports showpiece, except the 1976 edition, which was boycotted by the country.
Boxing has contributed six medals (three silver and three bronze) to the country’s entire medal haul, only second to athletics (13).