The organisers of Onitsha City Marathon (OCM) say the second edition of the race will hold in 2023, ANAMBRA PEOPLE reports.
Olusegun Sogbesan, the Director General of Onitsha Business School, organisers of OCM, said this in an interview with sports writers in Awka on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the first edition of the race held in Oct. 2019 with no fewer than 1,000 athletes from Nigeria and 11 other countries.
Sogbesan said that COVID-19 affected the competition in 2020.
He added that lack of sponsorship posed a huge challenge to the organizing of subsequent editions.
Sogbesan said the OCM organizers were discussing with the chairman of the Anambra Sports Development Commission, Patrick Onyedum, on possible return of the marathon in 2023.
“The commission Chairman has shown tremendous interest in the marathon and negotiations are going on on how to return the marathon so that local and international long distance runners could compete for glory in the streets of Onitsha.
“We still have our certification, a visiting assessor from IAAF said Onitsha had the best marathon route in Africa, we are willing to work with the Anambra State Government to develop the sector,” he said.
Sogbesan said the five-year sponsorship deal could not sail through because the OCM did not get endorsement of the previous state government.
He noted that the state government’s approval was a precondition for willing sponsors to enter into agreement with the organisers to fund the marathon.
“We lost a huge amount of money, Anambra State lost that money, just one bank alone had agreed to sponsor the marathon to the tune of N400 million for a five year period.
“Not that the state will sponsor it, but some of the corporate organisations that indicated interest to sponsor it wanted to have confirmation from the state but, that, we lost.
“That would have helped to build three sports centres in the state, it would have improved the rating of the marathon itself with additional certification,” he said.