The WNBA players had asked CAS to give them an interim allowance and add them to the Tokyo Games roster until a hearing can take place. The pair were told last week by FIBA that their request to play for the African nation had been denied because they had been playing for the US national program for too long.
“FIBA takes note of today’s decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to reject the request for provisional measures,” the basketball organization said on its website.
FIBA said the pair were not on Nigeria’s list submitted for the Tokyo Games.
Ogwumike and her sisters have dual citizenship with the United States and Nigeria and believed they should be eligible to represent Nigeria in Japan. The Ogwumikes’ 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 appeal after the team lost to the United States on Sunday to let them play. Williams played in this exhibition match, but not Ogwumike and his sister Chiney. They were on the bench cheering on their teammates.
“Give them the opportunity to help develop the game,” said Hughley. “This continent would simply be turned upside down by basketball. In a good way, you have no idea how many lives would be impacted and changed for the ages. “
Hughley expressed concern that the reason for FIBA’s refusals came from other countries who think they have a chance at a medal.
“They didn’t expect us to be in this position,” said the coach. “So there are things going on that nobody sees and that nobody talks about. It hampers integrity. It’ll catch up with whoever does that. It is simply not true. I know FIBA is better than that. I have been a part of them for a long time; it’s a great organization. “
Chiney Ogwumike had been granted the opportunity to play for Nigeria as a naturalized player. She had asked CAS to change that to give her the status of Nigerian – the same as her sister Erica who is also on the national list – since each country is only entitled to one naturalized player.
The CAS also rejected this appeal.
No African country has won a match at the Olympics since Nigeria scored 1-5 at the 2004 Athens Games.
Nneka Ogwumike and Williams have been cleared by USA Basketball to play for Nigeria. Usually, players who compete for the United States in major FIBA events after the age of 17 are not allowed to start playing for another country.
Nneka Ogwumike represented the United States at the 2018 World Cup in which the Americans beat Nigeria in the quarterfinals. She had hoped to make the US roster for Tokyo, but was left out of the squad when the announcement was made. She was suffering from a knee injury sustained early last month.