The player was not allowed to play for Nigeria from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), but decided to continue fighting for his rights and referred the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Nigeria was asked to consider the application by July 26, the day before its first match at the Olympics. The player argues that allowing her to play is important for the development of basketball in this African country and that the FIBA should care about it.
Under current rules, a player cannot change the national team after the age of 17 if he has played in a tournament approved by the FIBA. On the other hand, he has never played for another team before, but if he gets a new passport at the age of 16, he is considered normal. There can only be one person like this on every team. In exceptional circumstances, the FIBA may approve the change of representation or otherwise determine the status quo. In this case, FIFA explained that the new basketball team, which has been heavily involved in the U.S. national team for the past decade, could not be allowed.
In February 2020, Okwomike competed in the Olympic qualifiers (in which the Americans played “out of competition”) and even appeared in the match against Nigeria. He was expected to be on the team for Tokyo, but unexpectedly he missed out, which made him very sad. The staff explained it by his knee injury. The player will return to the court in the first half of July, but he did not do so before the break for the WNBA season. However, now, it is ready to play.
Elizabeth Williams, who was born in Great Britain to Nigerian parents, filed a similar application with the Los Angeles Sparks. He was not allowed to play for Nigeria for the same reasons. Okumike sisters Saini and Erica were treated differently. Since he only played on the former American youth team, he would be considered normal. However, Erica can play under normal conditions. American teams never cared about her.
In Tokyo, Nigeria was in Group B with France, Japan and … the United States. The Americans will be the first competitors on July 27th.