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The 2018 African Senior Athletics Championships (ASAC) which just concluded in Asaba, Delta State received bad reviews from member states.
Athletes from more than 12 countries competing were left stranded at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos due to a lack of connecting flights before the games started. The organizers of the championship have been under fire for poor arrangements for participants since pictures on social media of athletes camping on the floor of the airport with their luggage surfaced.
The games kicked off on Wednesday, August 1st 2018, with many athletes still miles away from the venue, stuck at the airport in Lagos. The Kenyan team had arrived in Lagos on Monday afternoon but did not leave for Asaba, where the games are being held, until Wednesday.
Besides, camping at the airport, some of the athletes claimed immigration officials seized their passports. Major events scheduled for the first day of the championship had to be postponed till the next day because of the poor arrangements.
"It is beyond our comprehension why Asaba was given the rights to host an event of this calibre without putting into consideration the logistics around the connecting flights. As a country, we are disappointed we have to go through this kind of treatment, and we intend to petition the IAAF and the CAA over this kind of confusion," - Hassan Noor Hassan, Kenya's chief administrative secretary for sport.
Tanzania, on the other hand, pulled out of the games over the lack of communication from organisers and poor organisation. Tanzania’s athletics secretary, Wilhelm Gidabuday, said the team made the difficult decision to back out of the games because of the concerns around visas.
“We saw what happened to the Kenyan team and we can't risk that happening to our athletes. We will wait 'til next year to compete," - Gidabuday Wilhelm
Solomon Dalung, Nigeria’s sports minister says the ministry of sports is unhappy with the complaints received from participating countries. According to him, the organizers had reassured him ahead of the game that all the accommodation and travel arrangement had been made for the athletes.
Going by Dalung’s comment, the chaos surrounding ASAC is mostly the fault of local organisers. "There are some lapses in the organization of Asaba 2018, but many are exaggerated. But I have told the organizing committee to sort all these problems out because this does not paint Nigeria in a good light," he said.
It didn't even translate to success on the track, with the host nation finishing third behind Kenya and South Africa.
What does this say about us?
The championship should have fostered stronger relations between all participating 52 African nations. It, however, showed Nigeria’s inability to host world-class events. This is while Nigeria is under consideration to possibly replace Cameroon as African Cup of Nations hosts for 2019.
From the lack of planning and logistics to the blame game of who is at fault, this experience points to the disorganisation of the Nigerian society at large.