By Tony Ushie
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has debunked media reports that the Cross River State Government has pulled out of the sponsorship of the All Nigeria AFN/CRS Athletics Championships.
Some sections of the media recently quoted a Cross River Sports Commission source as saying, “There is a dark cloud over the championships. The only hope now is that governor Imoke will take into consideration the five-year contractual terms. That is the only thread the championships is hanging on.”
But in a statement signed by Olukayode Thomas, the chairman of Communication and Media committee of AFN said the publication was false.
The statement said, “Cross River people and government are civil and cultured, they will not pull of sponsorships of the championships which serves as trial to major games and championships like the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, All Africa Games and IAAF World Championships without writing a formal letter to inform AFN.
“There will be a new government by the end of the month, and if tradition is anything to go by Cross River people and government are usually interested in sponsorship of events that are of mutual benefit to the state and people.
“Donald Duke started the Obudu Mountain Race, Liyel Imoke did not scrap it or stopped its sponsorship, rather he took it to a new height, we are positive that the new Governor, Ben Ayade will see the merits of the championships and continue its sponsorship.”
Olukayode noted that both the AFN and the Cross River State government were embarrassed by the publication. He said the state government got in touch with the Athletics Federation to express their shock.
No official of the state government was immediately available for comments.
Governor Imoke, took over sponsorship of the championship in 2011 after Mobil Nigeria discontinued its sponsorship.
The next edition of the championship which will serves as trials for the Beijing 2015 IAAF World Championships is scheduled to hold at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar from July 30 to August 1, 2015.
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