By Joe Apu
The Court of Arbitration for Sports today ruled against Nigeria’s appeal to field Nneka Ogwumike and Elizabeth Olatayo Williams for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The decision is a big setback to the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) which hoped to add the two players to better the country’s chances of a podium finish in Tokyo.
FIBA had earlier ruled that both players were not eligible to play for Nigeria but the two players had requested that the CAS provisionally accepts the change of their national status from USA to Nigeria.
Although both players had played for USA after the age of 17 and participated in the qualifying process to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (in February 2020 and September 2019, respectively), they recently requested an exceptional change of their national status, which FIBA declined under the applicable rules.
In any event, the players would have to wait for a three-year period since their last game with the USA to be eligible to play at the Olympics, as per Bye-law to Rule 41 of the Olympic Charter.
The list of players for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games submitted by the Nigeria Basketball Federation to the Nigeria Olympic Committee and to FIBA does not include these two players.
Nigeria is drawn in the same group with USA, France and Japan.