Some of South Africa’s top athletes have had to endure a nightmare trip to the African Championships in Nigeria.
The championships were supposed to start on Wednesday morning but Nigerian organisers were forced to delay the start until the afternoon in the southern city of Asaba.
South African athletes were forced to spend days in airport buildings while media and team media officers spent days back in Johannesburg trying to work out visa and logistical issues.
Among the athletes left in the lurch were South Africa’s Olympic and Commonwealth Games 800 metre champion Caster Semenya and long jump world champion Luvo Manyonga. The South African team also spent three days in Lagos.
The majority of the SA athletes left Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Confederation of African Athletics admitted to ‘organising problems’ as angry and exhausted athletes and team officials were stuck in Lagos amid flight cancellations and long delays. According to Associated Press, some were still in Asaba on Wednesday morning.
Officials at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria said they were not responsible for the problems and it was a matter for airlines and the African championships organisers.
Kayode Thomas, spokesperson for Asaba’s organising committee, declined to comment and said the organisers would instead issue a media release later.
Photo: Athletes at a crowded Lagos airport, by Ghanaweb