Brown Ebewele, Technical Director, Okpekpe Road Race, says Nigerian runners will be accorded equal privileges with their foreign counterparts in the 2018 edition of the 10km race.
Ebewele, who made the disclosure on Monday in Benin, said there were innovations introduced in the 6th edition of the race that has been upgraded to a Silver Label road race by the IAAF.
“This edition is packed with lots of innovations to leave up to it new status by the World Athletics body.
“Unlike the previous editions, this year’s race will see the top athletes from the country accorded the same privileges like other top runners from Africa.
“Aside being lodged in the same hotel, they will also be accorded every other right the foreign athletes will enjoy.
“Our top 10 athletes will no longer be segregated from the foreign athletes. They will also compete for the same price money,’’ he said.
NAN reports that in the previous editions, Nigerian athletes were solely responsible for their accommodation. The technical director said that had a way of giving Nigerian athletes sense of belonging, adding that a Local Organising Committee (LOC) has been constituted.
“The Commissioner for Youths and Special Duties in Edo, Micah Amalokhai, will help the organisers to coordinate everything that has to do with organisation of the race.
“To assist him, we also have the Commissioners for Education and that for Environment as members of the LOC,’’ he said.
Ebwele said the organisers would ensure that the organisation of the race conformed to best global practices.
“Movement of security personnel carrying weapons will be restricted and better organised in line with what is obtainable in other parts of the world.
“Unlike in previous races, security personnel will be trained in gun handling in the sports arena.
“We are going to have not only effective security officers during the race, but a well organised one. We do not want to see police officers with open display of guns during the race.
“What I am saying is that we will have security on ground but not with the way they carry guns about as if we are in war, Ebewele said.
“Of course they will carry guns and be around strategic locations, but you will not see them openly displaying their guns.
“Generally, there will be improvement in terms of organisation of the race. “The Okpekpe race is no longer a bronze label competition, it’s now a silver label, so everything about the race is being done in this regard.’’
The race will hold on May 12 at Okpekpe in Edo.