Gaborone — Botswana athletes who are currently in Asaba, Delta State (Nigeria) remain resolute to impress at the 21st Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) African Senior Championships despite travel glitches.
The CAA Asaba 2018, which started July 31, is expected to end on August 5 with a record 52 African countries battling for honours at the newly completed Stephen Keshi Stadium.
The team manager, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba confirmed in an interview that nine athletes and two officials were without their passports after immigration officials confiscated them on Friday last week upon arrival at the city located at the western edge of Niger River.
According to Ramatshaba, the immigration officials demanded that the team paid for their Visas, something he said was to be done by the Local Organising Committee (LOC). Nevertheless, he said they tried to pay but failed since they were expected to make such payment via Visa Cards.
"However, we tried to pay for the Visas, unfortunately we had cash but they made it clear that they are paid strictly by Visa Cards.
So our athletes who have been based in Europe like Nijel Amos, Onkabetse Nkobolo and Loungo Matlhaku had to pay for themselves, but we will ensure that they were reimbursed by the LOC," he said. He added that they would ensure that they got back the passports before the end of the competition and had since engaged the Nigeria Athletics Federation to intervene.
Ramatshaba was also adamant that the team was ready perform to their best and bring good results from the continent's biggest athletics showpiece, owing to earnest preparations prior to the competition. "Our team is safe and sound here in Asaba and their morale is very high and ready to cmpete.
What happened is water under the bridge and we cannot dwell much on that because we need to focus on what lies ahead of us," he said.
Again, reports from Nigeria indicated that over 300 athletes from various African countries were also stranded in Lagos due to unavailability of flights. Some athletes were said to have spent at least three nights at the airport while some had to share limited hotel rooms. Organisers are also said to have failed to charter flights for teams from Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Botswana and Cameroon teams to Asaba while the Ivory Coast contingent reportedly spent 36 hours at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja before finding accommodation.
Meanwhile, such glitches had forced organisers to reschedule some competition times with the 100m for both men and women as well as 10 000m men's final, mostly affected.
Source : BOPA