The President, Confederation of Africa Athletics, Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, on Thursday commended the Delta Government for hosting the ongoing 2018 Africa Senior Athletics Championships and apologized for the delay in starting the competition.
Malboum gave the commendation when he spoke to newsmen at the Media Centre of Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, venue of the championships.
Malboum said that Lagos was given the hosting right two years but that the state did not finalise with CAA before it was given to Asaba.
He said: “We appreciate the efforts of the organising committee, we gave the right two years ago, the event was given to Lagos but Lagos didn’t finalise on time and we opted for Asaba.
“I visited Asaba to inspect the stadium but what I meant was not a palatable one but what we have today is a big transformation.”
The CAA president apologised to the athletes for any hitch they might have experienced since they arrived in the country, saying he was relieved that the event finally started.
NAN reports that some countries were stranded in Lagos for almost 48 hours, before they finally made their way to the host city.
He said: “We are a growing continent and things are not perfect in this part of the world, so we are sorry for any difficulties the athletes and foreign journalist must have gone through.
“For some technical reasons, a lot of things didn’t go well as planned but the Local Organising Committee have assured the CAA that they will put everything right and they are working to salvage the situation.”
Malboum also commended the media for supporting the championships and urged them to be more constructive in their reportage.
Also, Sebastian Coe, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said he was in the country with his team to monitor things as they progressed.
Coe said that athletics was a global sports that required efforts to stage any major competition, adding that the host had done enough in staging the championships.
He said: “It is my duty to travel to any part of the world where any major athletics event is taking place and that is why I am here in Asaba.
“I am not here for any ceremonial reason, but I am here with my team to monitor what is on ground and also to assist the host in any area where they need to improve.
“Athletics is a global sport and we need to show the world how big and important our sport is; the state and federal government have put in a lot of efforts in staging this event and we appreciate them.”
Contributing, the former President, Athletics Federation of Nigeria and Chairman of the LOC, Solomon Ogba, accepted the blame, but pleaded for understanding.
Ogba said: “Today, all the athletes are here and we have adjusted the programmes to accommodate all; no one will be shut out.
“Other cities like: Lagos turn down the hosting, so I have to talk to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to bring the competition to Asaba in order not to deny Nigeria the hosting right.”
NAN reports that almost 1,000 athletes are participating in the five-day event that would end on August 5.