In a surprise move just a week before the opening of 1978 commonwealth Games, to be held in Edmonton, Canada, Nigeria announced they will boycott the games.
CU Commonwealth Games President Dr. Maury Van Vliet speaking in English.
CU OF New Zealand Team Chief Mr. Lance Cross speaking in English.
CU Malawi Team Leader Mr. John Magombo speaking in English.
TRANSCRIPT: REPORTER: "Do you have any idea why they have taken this decision?"
SEQ. 1: VAN VLIET: "No, other than I am quite certain that it's not a decision made by sportsmen and not a decision made by coaches or athletic officials. It would appear to be entirely political.
REPORTER: "You personally made a considerable effort in touring Africa before the games to ensure maximum support. Are you somewhat disappointed by this?"
VAN VLIET: "Yes, I certainly am. I think that when I returned to the suggestion at that time that I thought I was well received everywhere and that the group that was perhaps the least sympathetic to the New Zealand situation was Nigeria, I wouldn't say that it comes as any surprise to me. But at the same time, I'm not only disappointed, but somewhat shocked."
SEQ. 2: LANCE CROSS: "And I'm very, very sad indeed to think that this has happened in the Commonwealth Games. First of all that Nigeria, a member of the commonwealth family has seen fit to withdraw; but even sadder to think they've withdrawn for the reason stated and I believe the reason they've stated is that they withdraw as part of their anti-apartheid campaign and that it's based on the fact that New Zealand has circumvented the principles of the Gleneagles agreement."
REPORTER: "Is that in fact true?"
CROSS: "That is quite incorrect. I can say quite positively and quite certainly that in no way has the principle or the terms of the Gleneagle agreement been circumvented, nor have they been breached."
REPORTER: (ADDRESSING MALAWI TEAM LEADER JOHN MAGOMBO) "What was the situation when you left Algeria? Did you understand then that the Nigerians were still coming?"
SEQ. 3: MAGOMBO: "Well, at that time when we left Sunday and I was leaving Algeria, it was my understanding that every Commonwealth country on the African continent that was certain to come to Canada, was in fact coming."
REPORTER: "Did you get the feeling among the African teams that they were in fact looking forward to coming on to the Commonwealth Games?"
MAGOMBO: "Well, those that I talked to, yes."
Prior to the withdrawal of Nigeria, 49 nations of the Commonwealth had indicated they would be participating in the Games. That figure included 11 of the 13 nations in the African bloc, the exceptions being Botswana and Uganda. Entry forms had indicated that the Nigerians would be sending a team consisting of 76 athletes and up to 30 officials. As recently as Sunday (23 July) a further Telex from Algiers, where the All-African Games are presently being held, indicated the Nigerian team could grow to as many as 150 people.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In a surprise move just a week before the opening of 1978 commonwealth Games, to be held in Edmonton, Canada, Nigeria announced they will boycott the games. As with the major boycott of African Nations of the 1976 Olympics Games in Montreal, the boycott appears to stem from Nigerian objections to New Zealand's sporting links with South Africa. The President of the Organising Committee for the 1978 Commonwealth Games, Dr. Maury Van Vliet spoke to newsmen about the boycott. The New Zealand Team Chief Lance Cross also spoke to newsmen, followed by the Malawi Team Leader, John Magombo.