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Paris 2024 Games flame lit in ancient Olympia

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The sacred flame for the Paris 2024 Olympics was lit Tuesday in Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the ancient Games, in a ceremony

The sacred flame for the Paris 2024 Olympics was lit Tuesday in Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the ancient Games, in a ceremony inspired by antiquity and marked by messages of hope amid multiple global crises.

“In ancient times, the Olympic Games brought together the Greek city states, even – and in particular – during times of war and conflict,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

“Today, the Olympic Games are the only event that brings the entire world together in peaceful competition. Then as now, the Olympic athletes are sending this powerful message: yes, it is possible to compete fiercely against each other and at the same time live peacefully together under one roof,” he said.

Owing to cloudy weather, Greek actresses in the role of ancient priestesses used a flame lit in a rehearsal Monday in the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera, near the stadium where the Olympics were born in 776 BC.

Carrying the flame in a pot, Greek actress Mary Mina lit the torch for the first bearer, 2020 Olympic rowing champion Stefanos Ntouskos.

Retired French swimmer Laure Manaudou, who won her first gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, followed as France’s first torchbearer in Olympia.
– ‘Inclusive’ Games –

Officials on Tuesday stressed that the Paris Games will set new milestones, following the legacy of the other two prior Olympics held in the French capital.

“The Olympic Flame will shine over the first Olympic Games inspired by our Olympic Agenda reforms from start to finish,” Bach said.

“These Olympic Games will be younger, more inclusive, more urban, more sustainable. These will be the very first Olympic Games with full gender parity, because the IOC allocated exactly 50 percent of the places to female and male athletes,” he said.

Paris Olympics chief organiser Tony Estanguet noted that women took part for the first time in the Paris 1900 Games, while the first Olympic Village was created for the Paris 2024 Games.

For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic imposed toned-down events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Games, the ceremony was back with full regalia and scores of spectators.

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo were present at the ceremony.

American mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato delivered the Olympic anthem.

The torch harks back to the ancient Olympics when a sacred flame burned throughout the Games. The tradition was revived in 1936 for the Berlin Games.

During the 11-day relay on Greek soil, some 600 torchbearers will carry the flame over a distance of 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles) through 41 municipalities.

– Security concerns –

The Olympic flame will be handed over to Paris 2024 organisers in a ceremony at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, site of the first modern Olympic Games of 1896, on April 26.

Nana Mouskouri, the 89-year-old Greek singer with a worldwide following, has been invited to perform at the ceremony.

On April 27, the flame will begin its journey to France on board the 19th-century three-masted barque Belem, which was launched just weeks after the Athens 1896 Games.

A French historical monument, the Belem carried out trade journeys to Brazil, Guyana and the Caribbean for nearly two decades.

France’s last surviving three-mast steel-hulled boat, it is expected to arrive in Marseille on May 8.

Ten thousand torchbearers will then carry the flame across 64 French territories.

It will travel through 400 towns and dozens of tourist attractions during its 12,000-kilometre (7,500-mile) journey through mainland France and overseas French territories in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific.

On July 26 it will form the centrepiece of the Paris Olympics opening ceremony.

The ceremony is planned to be held on the river Seine — the first time it has not been held in the Games’ main stadium.

However, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said it could be moved to the national stadium in the event of a security threat.

Macron said instead of teams sailing down the Seine on barges, the ceremony could be “limited to the Trocadero” building across the river from the Eiffel Tower or “even moved to the Stade de France”.

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National Anti-Doping Bill 2024: Sports Minister applauds Tinubu’s foresightedness

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The Honourable Minister of Sports Development Senator John Owan Enoh salutes President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for placing premium on the National Anti-Doping Bill , thereby giving the Nation a reputation.

The transmission of the Anti-doping Bill 2024 to the National Assembly and the accelerated passage of same remains a landmark achievement of this administration. It is a show of the courageous and bold leadership of the president, a final and appropriate response to the perennial issues of doping that have characterized Nigeria’s relationship with the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA).

Senator John Owan Enoh the sports minister always made it clear that this administration was greeted with WADA issuing a notice to ban Nigeria from International Competitions which degenerated to the point that the agency took Nigeria to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). Amidst other non-compliant issues, the main challenge was Nigeria’s inability to domesticate the National Anti-doping Law and setting up a National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) as part of its obligation having signed the international convention in 1999.

“ for years,the country has grappled with meeting up to the expectations of the World Anti-Doping Organization ,despite being a foundational signatory for 25 years.
Nigeria has been in the eye of the storm due to its inability to domesticate the Anti-Doping Law with the backing of parliament.
I must thank our sports loving president for his foresight immediately the issues were brought before him .His foresight and actions have put the country on the right path in sports.
I also appreciate the National Assembly for the passage of the bill ,consideration and approval of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters during plenary.
The county will no longer have doubts of its participation in global sporting events, eligibility to host sports competitions amongst other perennial issues” the Sports Minister said.

This welcome development comes weeks before the country’s participation at the Paris Olympics 2024.

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Bafana Bafana Must Fall, Sports Minister Charges Super Eagles

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Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, on Monday, rallied support of critical stakeholders and Nigerians for Finidi George,

With the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in full swing, the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh has called on the Super Eagles to shift their focus from their recent African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and concentrate on the crucial task of securing a spot in the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The Super Eagles are set to face Bafana Bafana of South Africa on Friday at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, and Senator Enoh stated that Nigeria must approach the tie as a make-or-break one, as victory will put the team back on track for qualification.

“The FIFA World Cup is the biggest showpiece in football,” Senator Enoh emphasized. “We cannot afford to miss out on the World Cup again. The disappointment of missing the last tournament, especially after the disappointing home match against the Black Stars, must drive us to ensure we qualify this time.”

Senator Enoh urged all stakeholders, including players, coaches, and support staff, to be fully committed to the qualification campaign. “All hands must be on deck to ensure the team qualifies for the World Cup,” he stressed. “I urge the players to get the job done in the first half of the game by scoring early goals, so they are not under pressure in the second half.”

“The upcoming match against South Africa is critical,” Senator Enoh said. “The players need to put the AFCON glory behind them and concentrate fully on this task. Early goals will be key to taking control of the game and ensuring a less pressured second half.”

Senator Enoh concluded by expressing confidence in the Super Eagles’ ability to rise to the occasion and secure a much-needed victory. “We have the talent, the passion, and the support of millions of Nigerians. Let’s channel that into a winning performance and take a significant step towards World Cup qualification.”

The match will kick off at 8 p.m. local time on Friday, June 7, at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo. Nigeria currently has two points from two games and sits third in their group of six teams.

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South Africa coach names Super Eagles winger as danger man ahead of WCQ

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South Africa coach, Hugo Broos, has named Super Eagles and Atalanta winger, Ademola Olajade Lookman as the danger man for Nigeria ahead of both teams’ clash this evening, Soccernet.ng reports.

Both sides met in the semi-final of the AFCON 2023 tournament in Ivory Coast, with the Super Eagles emerging victorious after 120 minutes of intense football. Stanley Nwabali was the hero, denying Bafana Bafana twice from twelve yards.

Lookman is a leading candidate for the CAF Player of the Year Award, after a stellar season with Atalanta, getting to the Copa Italia final, and scoring a hat-trick against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the UEFA Europa League final.

Broos, speaking in his presser ahead of their game against Nigeria, highlighted the Atalanta man as the threat for his side but admitted their focus as a team won’t be on the former Leicester City forward.

“Obviously, the (Nigeria) danger man is Ademola Lookman, but we are not focusing on that. We are focusing on our game, we have the ability and we have proven that at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire,” the Belgian said in quotes revealed by Score Nigeria.

Lookman is primed to step up for the Super Eagles of Nigeria against South Africa tonight, alongside Victor Boniface, after the Nigerian attackers enjoyed success with their European club sides this season.

Samuel Chukwueze is a doubt for Finidi George ahead of tonight’s game. The A.C. Milan right winger did not take part in the final training session of the Super Eagles.

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