• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Ogwumike sisters and Elizabeth Williams file last-ditch CAS appeal to save Olympic dreams

·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

As the Olympic roster deadline creeps closer by the hour, Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams are stuck in a waiting game with FIBA and the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS).

The three women are all standouts in the WNBA but were left off of the United States women's basketball team for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Nneka's absence from the roster was particularly controversial, as she was also snubbed from the roster for the 2016 Olympics in the same year that she was named the WNBA MVP. However, the Ogwumikes and Williams had another option because they have Nigerian-born parents, so they are Nigerian citizens by descent.

All three athletes petitioned to play for Nigeria at the Tokyo Games after they were left off of the U.S. roster, but only Chiney was approved to compete as a naturalized citizen. Williams and Nneka were denied because of their "significant involvement" for more than 10 years with USA Basketball.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Athletes typically can not change their national team after the age of 17, but under FIBA regulations, an exception can be made for players wishing to change national teams if it is the interest of developing the sport of basketball. The group filed a last-ditch appeal to CAS that argues their participation on the Nigerian team would improve the team's performance and increase the prominence of the sport.

"Unequivocally, this is the case for a country currently ranked 17th in the FIBA World Rankings," the appeal says according to ESPN. "A strong finish by the Nigeria women's basketball team at the Olympic Games would undoubtedly be in the interest of the development of basketball in Nigeria."

The appeal also challenges Chiney's categorization as a naturalized citizen, arguing that she, Nneka and Williams have all been Nigerian citizens since birth by virtue of their parents' citizenship status. This is significant because only one naturalized citizen is allowed per roster, so if all three women were considered naturalized citizens, only one would be able to compete in the Games.

Nigeria's final roster for the Tokyo Olympics is due Sunday, so Williams and Nneka are left hoping that CAS will issue a provisional allowance for them to compete for Nigeria until an official ruling can be made. This would allow the three to travel and play with the team immediately unless CAS later rules against them.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Williams and the Ogwumikes asked in their appeal that CAS rule on the case by July 26, and Nigeria is schedule to play its first game of the Olympics against the United States on July 27.

Contact Emily Adams at eaadams@gannett.com or on Twitter @eaadams6.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: WNBA stars file CAS appeal to compete for Nigeria at Tokyo Olympics