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Team Nigeria Stranded in Lagos over UK Visas, IAAF Wades In

Team Nigeria Stranded in Lagos over UK Visas, IAAF Wades In

Nigeria’s athletes and officials to the 2017 IAAF World Championships scheduled to begin on Friday in London are still stranded in Lagos as the delegation is yet to be issued travel visas by the United Kingdom High Commission. The contingent was originally scheduled to depart for the 16th Worlds this evening.

Just last week, Nigeria’s delegation to the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas failed to make the trip as the team was denied both UK and USA transit visas.
As at yesterday, 2017 America NCAA champion, Tobiloba Amusan who came into the country for the Worlds Trials in Abuja was yet to get her visa.

Amusan, the second fastest Nigerian female sprint hurdler at 12.57 seconds, is the country’s next biggest star after Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor. Amusan is billed to make her Worlds debut at London 2017. Okagbare is not affected by the visa hassles as she has been in and out of UK this year for competitions.
All the other home-based athletes like reigning Commonwealth Games long jump queen, Ese Brume, who will be hoping to leap at least two steps higher than her fifth place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Glory Onome Nathaniel (400m hurdles), and quarter-mile trio of Patience Okon-George, Margaret Bamgbose and Yinka Ajayi are all waiting for the travel documents to the British capital.

However, World’s athletics governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is looking into the circumstances leading to the delay by the British High Commission in issuing entering visas to athletes and officials of Team Nigeria scheduled to feature at the London 2017 Senior Athletics Championships. The competition will run from Thursday, August 4 to 13.

The Guardian learnt yesterday that majority of the 17 athletes penciled down for the trip were yet to secure UK visas due to what a source described as ‘shortness’ of the time that the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) applied for it.

The Secretary General of AFN, Akawo Amaechi stated that the body was yet to receive any message from the British High Commission concerning issuance of visas to the contingent. “Our earlier plan was to depart for London tomorrow (today) to enable the athletes have time to relax before their competition. But as we speak, I have not gotten any message from the British embassy. I just hope they will issue the visas on time for us to go. The delay is becoming worrisome to us,” Amaechi stated.

Whyte Daniel

August 1st, 2017

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