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African Athletics Championship good for Olympics-bound stars, says Olopade

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Bukola Olopade

Former Ogun State Sports Commissioner, Bukola Olopade, has described as a ‘big boost’, the decision by Nigeria to host the 22nd African Senior Athletics Championships in Lagos.

The Championship, which will serve as the last qualifier for African countries ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, was earlier scheduled for Algeria but the north African country pulled out earlier this month. The city of Asaba, Delta State, hosted the 21st edition in 2018.

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Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Olopade, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Nilayo Sports Management, organisers of the Lagos City Marathon, said staging the African Senior Athletics Championships in Lagos would be a major boost for track and field stars across the continent.

“I am really glad that Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, and officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) came to the rescue of African track and field stars, by choosing to host the championship in Lagos. The sports minister has once again demonstrated that Nigeria is not only a big brother to other African countries but also a reliable friend to the African athletics governing body. I also commend the President of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA), Kalkaba Malboum, for acting promptly by naming a new host after Algeria pulled out.

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swNow, athletes from African countries will have a ground to sharpen their swords before the Tokyo Olympics,” Olopade stated.

The African Senior Athletics Championship is coming to Lagos 32 years after the city hosted the sixth edition in 1989. It is scheduled to hold between June 23 and 27 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere.

In a statement issued in Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday, CAA President, Kalkaba Malboum, and Nigeria Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, said Lagos was affirmed to host the championship that will serve as the last qualifying event for African athletes for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Apart from the Teslim Balogun Stadium, there will be auxiliary support from the National Stadium, Surulere and the Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, both in Lagos.

Nigeria has now tied with Egypt as the two African countries to host the championships three times since the inaugural edition in 1979 in Dakar, Senagal.

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