LAS VEGAS – Nneka Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams will not play for Nigeria in the Olympics after the Arbitration Court dismissed their appeal.
The WNBA players had asked CAS to give them a temporary allowance and add them to the list of Tokyo games until a hearing could occur. The pair were informed last week by FIBA that their petition to play for the African nation had been rejected because they were playing for the US national program for too long.
“FIBA acknowledges today’s decision by the Court Arbitration of Sport (CAS) to dismiss the request for interim measures,” the basketball organization announced on its website.
FIBA said the pair were not on Nigeria’s list sent to the Tokyo Games.
Ogwumike and her sisters have dual citizenship with the United States and Nigeria, believing that they should be eligible to represent Nigeria in Japan. Ogwumike’s parents, Peter and Ify, were both born in Nigeria and came to the United States before their daughters were born.
Nigeria coach Otis Hughley Jr. felt they should have been allowed to play. He made a passionate plea after the team lost to the United States on Sunday to let them play. Williams played in that show game, but Ogwumike and her sister Chiney did not. They sat on the bench and cheered on their teammates.
“Allow them the opportunity to help grow the game,” Hughley said. “That continent would just be turned upside down for basketball. In a good way, you have no idea how many lives would be affected and changed through the ages.”
Hughley said he was concerned that the reason for FIBA’s refusal came from other countries who believe they have a chance to medal.
“They did not expect us to be in that position,” said the coach. “So there are some things going on that no one sees and no one talks about. It gets in the way of integrity. It will catch up with whoever does it. It’s just dead wrong. I know FIBA is better than that. I has been a part of them for a long time; it’s a great organization. “
Chiney Ogwumike had the opportunity to play with Nigeria as a naturalized player. She had asked CAS to change it to give her the status of Nigerian – the same as her sister Erica, who is also on the nation’s list – as each country only has a naturalized player’s permit.
CAS also dismissed that appeal.
No African nation has won a game in the Olympics since Nigeria went 1-5 in the 2004 Athens Games.
Nneka Ogwumike and Williams have received permission from USA Basketball to play for Nigeria. Normally, players competing for the United States in major FIBA events after the age of 17 may not start playing for another country.
Nneka Ogwumike competed for the United States in the 2018 World Cup, where the Americans beat Nigeria in the quarterfinals. She had hoped to get the US list of Tokyo, but was left out by the team when it was announced. She had had a knee injury that was inflicted early last month.