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ANALYSIS: Tokyo Olympics: Why Nigeria, Other African Countries Performed Poorly



The recently concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympics indicates how much Africa lags behind other continents in sports.

At the opening ceremony, it was a great delight seeing top singers from around the world performing. This stellar cast included John Legend and Keith Urban, who performed “Imagine.” The song, co-written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono 50 years ago, played while a giant Earth made of drones rotated above the Olympic stadium.

The artists who rendered the sonorous song hailed from different continents, with Legend representing the Americas, Urban representing Australia, Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz representing Europe, Angelique Kidjo representing Africa, and the Junior Chorus representing Asia.

In that sweet beginning, all the continents stood as equals, heralding the greatest gathering of athletes. But when the competition closed on Sunday, August 8, the status had changed as depicted by the medals’ table.

Unequal stance and status
While the musicians equally shared the stage to serenade the world, the final medals table was not a sonorous one, especially for Africa.

The standings highlighted once more the huge gap between Africa and the other continents in terms of their overall sporting prowess.

This is a sad reality for the continent that boasts of the second-highest population, only behind Asia, and also has an abundance of raw talents which, if well-harnessed, can become world-beaters and, of course, Olympic medalists.

Africa’s total haul of 11 gold, 12 silver, and 14 bronze medals do not match the singular achievement of fifth-placed Australia who amassed 17 gold, 17 silver, and 22 bronze medals

While all the other continents had occupants from the 1st to the 12th positions on the medals table, the top African team, Kenya, came in a distant 19th position.

There were 205 participating countries at the Tokyo Olympics, and 52 were from Africa.

At the end, only seven countries from Africa had their National Anthems played in Tokyo, having won gold medals in various events

Kenya and fellow East African neighbours Uganda and Ethiopia won more than half of the total gold medals won by Africa as they jointly won seven gold medals across different events; especially the long-distance races where they have carved a niche.


The North Africans also had a memorable outing in Tokyo, where they snagged three gold medals.

Also, Soufiane El Bakkali gave Morocco its first gold in the 3,000m steeplechase, clocking in at 8:08:90.

Morocco had not seen gold since Hicham El Guerrouj’s victories in the 1,500m and 5,000m races at Athens 2004.

Like Morocco, Egypt ended their 17-year wait for another Olympic gold after Karateka Feryel Abdelaziz clinched a gold medal in the women’s +61kg Kumite event.

Unfortunately, West Africa had no golden moment in Tokyo, with Nigeria leading the region with a silver and a bronze medal.

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