*File picture of elite athletes on the road during the previous edition of the race
Mike Itemuagbor, the promoter of the famous Okpekpe International 10km Road Race has announced that the international event for this year has been cancelled due to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has crippled global activities. He said the decision to cancel the first road race in Nigeria and West Africa to be granted a World Athletics label was a difficult one.
With travel restrictions across the globe, Itemuagbor whose race is the first label road running event in West Africa said the cancellation is coming six weeks before the event, which was earlier scheduled for Saturday May 23, 2020 in Okpekpe. The destination is a hilly town in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State.
Itemuagbor said, “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. 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 that 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 concluded.