CAPE TOWN - Athletics South Africa excellence manager Hezekiel Sepeng is awaiting confirmation that the African Athletics Championships has been re-organised to take place in Lagos, Nigeria at the end of June.
Various social posts from media and other athletics stakeholders over the last 12 hours have stated that the event – which was first supposed to take place in early June in Oran, Algeria, before being changed to Algiers in the same country later in the month and then postponed once more – will now happen at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos from June 23-27.
A statement undersigned by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development in Nigeria and the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) revealed that there was a meeting between the CAA president, Hamad Kalkaba Malboum of Cameroon, and Nigeria’s sports minister Sunday Dare in Cairo on Monday, where issues around the championship were “fully deliberated upon, and modalities for a successful hosting of the Championships were carefully mapped out”.
“The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development in Nigeria and the Confederation of African Athletics are fully committed and working in synergy towards the delivery of a world-class championships,” the statement read.
“In the coming days, more comprehensive details regarding the successful hosting of the Championships in Lagos, Nigeria will be made public.”
But Sepeng told IOL Sport on Wednesday morning that no letter has been received by Athletics SA from CAA about the Lagos decision.
As the ASA excellence manager, the former 800m star will seek that confirmation from the continental body.
The event is crucial for many SA and other African athletes who are still trying to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
“We have also seen this notice on social media. We are just going to confirm with the CAA because we have not received any circular from the CAA office confirming that,” Sepeng told IOL Sport.
“There’s nothing official that has been shared with us. I am going to send them an email to confirm this thing.
“It’s crucial that the event takes place to help our athletes qualify for the Olympics, as there are not many competitions available. Also because of Covid, not all athletes can go all over. Athletics in Africa were going to use the African Champs to qualify.
“After the postponement of Algeria, our athletes were disappointed. But ja, we will have to confirm with CAA about the Nigeria competition. We haven’t selected a team as yet. Last week we announced a preparation squad to the federations, because it had been postponed and we were not sure when the champs will be.
“So, we had to announce the preparation squad, so that athletes can keep on preparing, in case the champs do take place. If it is confirmed that Nigeria are the hosts, then we will have to release the final squad.”