The organisers of the Okpekpe international 10km road race, the first label road running event in West Africa have cancelled the eighth edition of the competition.
The cancellation comes six weeks before the event scheduled for Saturday, May 23, 2020, in Okpekpe, a hilly town near Auchi, Etsako East local government area of Edo state.
Mike Itemuagbor, promoter of the race says the decision to cancel the road race in Nigeria and West Africa to be granted a World Athletics label was due to the escalating COVID-19 crisis and the travel restrictions across the globe.
“We know this will disappoint many runners who have trained towards the event and tourists who have always chosen the time of the race to escape the hustle and bustle of many Nigerian cities to unwind in a serene, hilly countryside that the Okpekpe community and adjoining towns represent.
“Regrettably, with ongoing developments in Nigeria and around the world where COVID-19 has ravaged so many countries, we no longer consider it safe nor responsible to go ahead with the historic event,” says Itemuagbor.
This is the first cancellation in the history of the event, coming a year after it became the first silver label road race in West Africa and second in Africa.
“We sincerely hope that our runners will want to support us once this is all over and return to run in Okpekpe next year. We also hope our sponsors and partners will understand we are left with no choice but to cancel the race this year. We believe the well being of athletes, officials and spectators, especially the good people of Okpekpe community is more important than the race itself,” Itemuagbor added.
He revealed that organisers of the race are working with relevant authorities in Nigeria, especially the government of Edo state to ensure a safe environment for all Nigerians and visitors who come into Okpekpe and Edo state for various reasons including sports.
He specially thanked Edo state government for providing the enabling environment for the race to thrive and put Nigeria on top of the map as an international destination for sports.