Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State Governor
The Delta State government has described some of the criticism of the just concluded Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championships as erroneous, saying that the competition surpassed the expectations of the organisers, including the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA).
In a statement signed by Manager, Communications, Government House, Asaba, Jackson Ekwugum, Delta State described as crass opportunism, blatant mischief and sheer dishonesty the claim by some critics that Asaba 2018 was a failure.
It said aside from the fact that it was “unfair and illogical to assess the success or otherwise of a major championship like Asaba 2018 based on a few glitches here and there, some of the critics became victims of social media rumours in their haste to execute a sinister agenda.”
The state added: “To start with, it is nothing new to have minor glitches at major competitions like Asaba 2018.
What is important is how the organisers rise up to the challenge.
In the case of Asaba 2018, following the delay in flight connections for some athletes at the Lagos airport, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa moved swiftly and decisively to resolve the problem.
Counting the gains of the Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championships, the statement said: “For the first time in the 39-year history of the competition, there were 52 countries that took part, five more than the previous record of 47.
The tournament also featured a record number of 800 athletes while the number of events competed for rose from 44 to 46.
“In the course of the competition, the sleepy town of Asaba burst into life as expectant spectators daily thronged the magnificent Stephen Keshi Stadium.”
“There was a palpable feeling of joy and excitement as people trooped into the stadium to watch world class athletes in action.
It was obvious their enthusiasm was not dampened by media reports of the mix-up at the airport and the negative comments of so-called public commentators.
It was five unforgettable days of exciting and entertaining athletic action, which saw Nigeria women claim gold in the 4 x100 metres and 4 x 400m relays. Kenya topped the medals table, followed by South Africa and Nigeria.
“Daily attendance at the games was one for the records.
On the last day of the competition, even though the 25,000 capacity stadium was packed to the brim, the stadium gates had to be locked by law enforcement personnel to keep away the surging crowd outside. This is rare for an athletic competition.
It is pertinent to point out that the security was spot on and the crowd management excellent.
In addition, there were no issues or complaints with the accommodation, feeding and transportation arrangements provided by the Delta State Government.