IAAF wades into visa delay for Nigerian athletes, advance party hits London

Team Nigeria (right) is expected to win medals in the women 4x100m and 4x400m relays at the IAAF World Championships, which begins in London…on Thursday. PHOTO: AFP.

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 told The Guardian yesterday 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.

The Guardian learnt that President of AFN board, Ibrahim Gusau left Nigeria yesterday for London to enable him attend the IAAF World Congress, which will hold before the commencement of the competition. Gusau was elected AFN boss during the June 13 sports federations’ election in Abuja.

Another major issue threatening Team Nigeria’s participation in the London 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships is fund, but an official of the board hinted yesterday that Gusau had promised to borrow money to enable the country attend the event.

It was learnt that the IAAF is expected to provide tickets for a good number of the athletes, but the contingent must be in London to get the refund.

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