NOC cautions athletes planning to defect in Australia

NOC Secretary General, Tunde Popoola

Promises hitch-free visa procedure
The Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) has warned athletes intending to defect in Australia after the 2018 Commonwealth Games to banish such thoughts, saying that stringent rules are in place to monitor members of the Nigerian contingent and their counterparts from other countries at the event.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday following a statement by the Australian government through its Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, NOC Secretary General, Tunde Popoola said no member of the Nigerian delegation would be able to stay beyond the stipulated period of the event because no athlete at the Commonwealth Games will get an Australian visa.

Popoola explained that every member of Team Nigeria will have a code attached to his passport to clarify that he is representing Nigeria in Australia for only the period of the Commonwealth Games. He declared that the NOC on its part has put stringent modalities in place to monitor the activities of Nigerian athletes in Australia.

“I don’t think any Nigerian athlete will plan to defect in Australia after the Commonwealth Games because Nigeria will send a disciplined contingent to the games. Aside that, the NOC and the Commonwealth Games organising committee have a well arranged security system to ensure the issue of athletes overstaying in the country does not occur. The Nigerian passport that the athletes will present at the point of entry to Australia will not be stamped or have any visa. This implies that any athlete who does not leave the country after the games will be easily tracked.

Any athlete caught with a passport that is not stamped in Australia after then games will be treated like a criminal after the event,” he said.

Popoola also assured Nigerians that the NOC and the Australian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa have put in place a system that would ensure easy visa access for the athletes.

Popoola revealed that a special portal has been opened for all participating athletes to ensure they do not face any challenge to their travelling and training programmes for the Commonwealth Games, adding the NOC decided to make this arrangement early enough to athletes are ready for the event.

“With the latest development, every Nigerian athlete selected by his federation for the Commonwealth Games will not face any visa hitch, this I can assure Nigerians.

“A solid arrangement has been made to ensure the athletes arrive in Australia one month before the event,” he said.

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