Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Nigeria upsets Botswana by cancelling athletics champs

After agreeing to host the African Athletics Championships last month, Nigeria has pulled back from its offer. 

The decision came two weeks after agreeing to host the 22nd edition of the Championships from June 23- 27. The decision to withdraw came due to the increase of corona virus cases; a decision that Algeria, the original host of the 2021 (AAC) pulled out for.

According to a letter dated 1st June 2021 from the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 in Nigeria the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sport Development stated that the increasing trend of Covid-19 cases in certain countries coupled with widespread prevalence of mutant strains of the virus outside of Nigeria could place a high risk of the importation of these mutant strains. 

The letter continues: “Hosting the 2021 edition of the AAC at this time will constitute a threat to the gains that have been made by the national response in mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic.”

However, it also said the delay in vaccinating a large proportion of the citizens of Nigeria due to shortage in global supply of vaccines may translate to a risk of another wave of infections in their country. 

For Botswana, this news comes as a draw back as they were hoping to use the (AAC) to qualify more athletes for the Tokyo Olympics and also better the times of the ones who have already qualified. 

Wabone Theetso, Botswana Athletics Associations vice President said as much as the pandemic is getting out of hand and countries falling back on their promises to host tournaments to better athlete’s chances to qualify for the Olympics they as the BAA will find ways to compete locally and assist their athletes. 

“We are very disappointed at the withdrawal to host by Nigeria but there is nothing that can be done to change their minds. As it stands, we are planning on holding a tournament this weekend to assist our athletes to qualify,” Theetso said. 

Despite the turn-out of events, Theetso said they have sent out invitations to SADC Region countries to take part in the tournament for it to be rated. 

“In our quest to host, we are pleased to announce that Zambia has agreed to come and join us. Hopefully by mid-week we will be having a proper list of countries who will be joining us,” he said. 

Even though the people of Japan had their concerns about hosting and pleading with its government to withdraw from hosting due to covid concerns, Theetso is adamant that the Olympics will proceed. 

“World relay were hosted successfully; Diamond League is on-going and many others are being hosted as we speak. Because of this the Olympics will surely take place,” he explained. 

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