Chaos as top African athletes stranded at Lagos airport
Organizers of the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championships being held in Nigeria have come under fire over poor arrangements for participants at the competition.
Some of Africa’s most prominent athletes were photographed camping on the floor with their luggage at the Lagos airport on Tuesday.
Burundi’s Olympic silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba shared pictures of herself, and other teammates camped on the airport floor, resting on their luggage on social media.
“Bad situation in Nigeria before African championship in ASABA 2018. be strong # the competition starts today,” she tweeted.
Kenya’s team arrived Monday and were stuck in Lagos for two days trying to secure a connecting flight to Asaba city in southeast Nigeria, where the event is being held.
Their troubles started on arrival at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, on Monday where immigration officials seized their passport, said James Magayi, a sports journalist who traveled with the Kenyan team.
“We expected a local organizing committee desk to assist all the incoming athletes and the press, but there was nothing like that. What the Nigeria airport authorities did was to confiscate all our passports, and we got our passport about 34 hours later,” said Magayi.
Immigration officials could not be reached for comment.
Unable to get a connecting flight to Asaba on the first night, the Kenyan team were forced to sleep three to a bed as the hotel close to the airport was fully booked, said Magayi.
“The whole Kenyan contingent was taken to a hotel somewhere in Ikeja. The hotel was already fully booked. We got a few rooms, so three people shared one bed,” he said.
Athletics Kenya in a statement on Wednesday said Kenya’s sports ministry had “facilitated” the team’s journey to Lagos, but the CAA and the championship organizers should have booked the connecting flight for the team.
“The connecting flight from Lagos to Asaba was the responsibility of Confederation of Africa Athletics (CAA) and the Local Organizing Committee, who had assured us that all was well.”
The body says it plans to petition the CAA and the International Association of Athletics Federation on the issue.
CAA in a statement said it had rescheduled some of the events slated for Wednesday due to “organizing problems.”
Some of the Kenyan athletes finally arrived in Asaba Wednesday morning, Magayi said.
Other countries like Uganda, South Africa, Benin, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Egypt, South Sudan, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Morocco, and Rwanda also had their athletes stranded in Lagos, Athletics Kenya says.
The competition will act as a qualifier for the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, the Czech Republic in September.