The United Arab Emirates (UAE) says it did not bar Nigerian athletes from participating in the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships in Dubai.
Athletes from Nigeria, who are billed to take part in the swimming contest, were reportedly denied access by the UAE authorities.
The development, which comes at a time when Nigeria and the UAE had a brief diplomatic row, had elicited criticism.
But in a statement signed by the event’s local organising committee (LOC), and obtained by TheCable on Sunday, the UAE denied any form of discrimination against athletes and national teams participating in the competition.
According to the statement, the directive applies to all national teams participating in the competition.
It added that the measure was taken to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic
“Since the very beginning of the pandemic, the UAE has implemented health and safety procedures to protect and safeguard the lives and wellbeing of its citizens, residents and visitors,” the statement read.
“The event’s local organizing committee (LOC) remains steadfast in its commitment to adhere to these procedures, based on the local health authority regulations.
“As per the safety protocols, anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, including those in contact with someone who has tested positive, must quarantine immediately. Following robust testing procedures at the World Swimming Championships 2021, the necessary rules were effectively adopted.
“These rules have been applied to all national teams without exceptions. Any claims of discrimination against those who tested positive for COVID-19, including those in close contact with someone who did, are categorically untrue and without merit.”
It remains to be seen if the Nigerian athletes allegedly denied access to participate in the swimming contest tested positive for the virus or had close contact with someone who did.