NAIROBI, Kenya - Tanzania have pulled out the African Athletics Championships in Nigeria due to what it called poor organisation and security concerns in the west African nation.
Tanzania was expected to send five athletes to the biennual championships in the southern city of Asaba, but officials said they were dissatisfied with the poor travelling plans to the event, as well as the threat of insecurity from extremist groups in the region.
The lead-up to the event, which was due to have gotten under way on August 1, has seen more than 300 athletes from 20 countries stranded for two days in Lagos, without flight connections to Asaba.
"The organisers of the African championship acted too late in sending the invitation letters, and they also failed to assure us that we would get visas on arrival in Nigeria," Athletics Tanzania secretary Wilhelm Gidabuday said.
"We are also concerned about the safety since the Niger Delta region where the event is being held has been put on security alert due to danger of attacks by the Boko Haram extremist groups."
Kenya, represented by 60 athletes, also saw their travel plans affected with pictures shown of athletes and officials sleeping rough at Lagos airport. Kenyan officials said the team were to travel to Asaba on Thursday for the rescheduled championships.
Athletes from various African countries who are billed to compete today at the Africa Senior Athletics Championship #Asaba2018 are still stranded in Lagos.
This is a national disgrace. When will our administrators learn to plan properly? pic.twitter.com/FZqJqw4q7t
Now in Lagos Airport around 300 person between athletes and officials from 20 countries are waiting since this morning (10 hours) to reach Asaba the city of the African Athletics Championships. pic.twitter.com/zONLMNw8MG
Moroccan highjumper Rhizlane Siba, 2014 African champion talking about their experiences in Nigeria.Athletes being stranded at the airport for 3 nights is UNACCEPTABLE. Nigeria such a disappointment. They knew they were hosting Africa Athletics Championships.. #Asaba2018 pic.twitter.com/uZxrDFgOZD
FLASH: Stranded Athletes flying to Asaba from Lagos Airport for African Athletics Championships which kicks off this morning threaten to go back their various countries as there is no light in Asaba Airport for flights to land at night. #Asaba2018 pic.twitter.com/RlOzghCpje
Kenya’s athletes @AthleticsKE and officials are still held up at Lagos’ Murtala Mohammed International Airport with the start of competition at the 21st African Athletics Championships in the Delta State city of Asaba just hours away.We shouldn't be here. pic.twitter.com/O1c4ws3Cqz