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African Athletics Championship a complete disaster

The African Athletics Championship held in Nigeria, has not turned into showing Africa’s sporting prowess to the world, but into an embarrassing fiasco.

Published: August 7, 2018, 10:36 am

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    It has turned out to be an organisational disaster by all accounts, with the lack results showing on the official AAC website, the least of their problems.

    Hours before the event was supposed to commence, some 400 athletes were still stuck in Lagos at the Airport, unable to reach Asaba. Organisers had apparently failed to make provision for interconnecting flights to Asaka where the games were being held. Athletes had to sleep on the floor all night.

    The poor logistics has seen scores of athletes, officials and journalists cry foul as they got stranded at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Nigeria’s capital.

    With no scheduled flights to Asaba Airport, the organisers had to charter aircraft to ferry delegations from Lagos to Asaba, approximately 500 kilometres from Lagos. It appears that nobody had been bothered with the schedules of international competitors.

    With the backlog of three days, transfers to Asaba were being handled on a first-come-first-serve basis with the chartered flights unable to meet the demand.

    Athletes and officials suffered with luggage either lost or misplaced in the ensuing chaos. The opening day’s programme had to be postponed eventually.

    According to the schedule, competition was supposed to start on Wednesday at 9am with the decathlon’s 100 metres race. “It is total chaos here,” Kenyan sports journalist Muigai Kiguru who was travelling in the Kenyan team, was quoted in the press.

    “I hear there could be a flight for about 70. It seems like some (athletes) will travel on Wednesday,” he added.

    On Tuesday morning, the Kenyan team could still not get a flight to Asaba with some members of the delegation sharing beds at the airport hotels upon arrival on Monday.

    A pole vaulter who wanted to remain anonymous, complained about the quality of the track. “The track itself was not flat. Athletes were running on a roller coaster!” the athlete said.

    Moroccan high jumper Rhizlane Siba said preparations for the event have been massively affected. “We made it to Lagos two nights ago,” she told AfricaNews ahead of the games. “We slept the first night at the airport and the second night at the hotel. They claimed that we had a flight coming today, but we have spent the whole day at the airport.”

    Siba added: “We are stranded in Lagos. We haven’t trained for three days, and we haven’t eaten properly in two days.”

    When the games finally got underway, things did not improve much either. The wrong anthems were played and flags were flown upside down. Then the water tower collapsed and the stadium resembled a dump for toxic waste with many of the installations still unfinished.

    The disrupted schedule for the competition, running from August 1-5, forced neighbouring Tanzania not to bother with sending their team and they withdrew, AFP reported. The Tanzanians said organisers had sent out documents too late.

    But Solomon Ogba, chairman of the local organising committee, at a press conference on Thursday blamed competing nations because they had sent travel plans too late, he said.

    Unaffected by the bad press, Nigerian officials said they were seriously pursuing hosting rights for the 2025 world athletics championships. The country has one of the highest birthrates in Africa.

    Around 16 percent of Africa’s population live in Nigeria, the most populous nation on the continent. In 2014, the inhabitant count stood at 178 500 000 and 5,5 million people are added every year. There are virtually no Europeans living in the country.

    The championships were held to select the African team for the IAAF Intercontinental Cup in the Czech Republic in September this year, according to AFP.

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    • lilyred

      We expect too much. I’m sure they do the best they can. It IS Africa.


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