After defeating Honduras in the third place match at the Olympics soccer event on Saturday (Aug. 20), Nigeria’s players ended up with bronze medals on their necks and thousands of dollars in their pockets—thanks to Katsuya Takasu, a Japanese plastic surgeon.
The grinning Takasu flew into Rio to rewarded the team with $390,000 for their bronze medal win at the Rio Games after being impressed by the team’s resilience despite the haphazard planning and poor conditions before and during the Games.
After the Nigerian team was left stranded in Atlanta, USA, ahead of the Games because their flights had not been paid for, their plight made headlines. Eventually, the team landed in Rio just seven hours ahead of their first game, against Japan. But despite the less than ideal circumstances, the team served up an impressive performance to beat the Japan and eventually finished top of their group. But the money troubles didn’t end there. Hours before the quarterfinal match against Denmark, Nigeria’s players threatened to boycott the game in protest over unpaid allowances. After reading the team’s financial struggles, Takasu said he “felt the need to make a big contribution.”
Japanese plastic surgeon Katsuya Takasu has delivered on his promise of giving the #Nigeria U23 team $10,000 each pic.twitter.com/VA6VLXN377
— Babatunde Koiki (@BabatundeKoiki) August 20, 2016
Takasu donated $200,000 to the team to “cover bonuses and allowances” and also donated $10,000 to all members of the 18-man team as well as the team manager for winning bronze. Takasu flew to Rio to personally deliver cheques to the team.
“I had traveled from Tokyo prepared to reward them anyway, and to watch them win the bronze inside the stadium was very fulfilling,” he told BBC.