As the world gradually adjusts to the new realities posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus which has disrupted the 2020 season for Athletes across the globe, Nigeria’s leading Sports Media and Management company Making of Champions has tentatively set the dates of 3rd to 5th December 2020 for the third edition of its annual flagship competition, the MoC Grand Prix in Lagos, Nigeria in December 2020, provided that Sports has been given the all-clear to resume in Nigeria by then.

Even though competition has resumed in some parts of the world, Africa seems to be the hardest hit by the Covid-19 outbreak, with the only competition seemingly still moving forward the World Continental Tour Meet in Kenya rescheduled for 26th September. Domestic Competitions have been on hold in Nigeria since March when the National Sports Festival was postponed (there has been some word that it could still take place in October/November) and shortly after World Athletics suspended the Olympic qualification window to re-open on 1st December 2020.

Over the years, Nigeria’s top athletes have used the MoC Grand Prix to seek qualification for international competitions, and the 3rd MoC Grand Prix won’t be any different.

The tentative dates for 3rd MoC Grand Prix and Relays in December would give athletes and relay teams across Africa a much needed first opportunity to vie for Tokyo Olympics qualification once the window re-opens, which would most likely be the only opportunity before the year 2020 runs out. As such, MoC has launched a survey, available in English or French, to determine whether or not athletes across Nigeria and Africa would be willing to extend their 2020 Season to compete at any Olympic Qualifying event in December.

MoC is looking to extend the frontiers of its annual Grand Prix by throwing the competition open to athletes from other African countries such as Benin Republic, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, South Africa and Togo (all listed in the survey), should they wish to participate in the individual events and the relays as well. All Athletes across Africa and indeed globally are welcome to attend – the survey list simply reflects countries in close proximity to Nigeria and those who may be interested in sending Relay teams to compete for Olympic Qualification – all other Athletes interested from other nations are also invited to fill the survey.

The MoC Grand Prix features both Track and Field events as well as the relays.

Commenting on the tentative scheduling, MoC’s Founder & CEO, Bambo Akani, acknowledged that the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic could still play a role in determining if MoC’s flagship annual event would still hold in 2020, especially as a Continental event:

“Sports has undoubtedly been one of the hardest hit sectors globally by the coronavirus pandemic, and the impact has not been felt more anywhere than in Africa. While the rest of the world has already started re-shaping their events for social distancing and using technology for Athletes to compete against each other across continents from their respective locations, Africa’s Athletes are largely in limbo, with many borders still being closed.

“As such, it is imperative to ensure that Athletes across Africa still have opportunities to compete and stay in shape ahead of the Tokyo Olympics next year. If we can create qualification opportunities, which were even lacking before the pandemic, even better. Our hope is that cross-border travel in Africa will have fully resumed by December so that we can include a new exciting “Nigeria vs the World” Relays at the event, for Africa’s Teams gunning for 4x100m and 4x400m Olympic Qualification.

“We’re taking the appropriate steps now to see what the demand for such an event in December would be. Obviously it would require Athletes to extend their 2020 season until December, and some may not be willing or able to travel abroad at that time. At the very least, we know that such an event could work for Nigeria’s Athletes based at home, especially if the rescheduled National Sports Festival does go ahead just a month before – the last edition in 2018 actually also held in December.

“Having the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics a full 7 months prior will give Nigeria’s and Africa’s Athletes the much needed time to plan and secure sponsors in 2021 to better prepare themselves for Tokyo. Even if it doesn’t work for Athletes across Africa to attend the 3rd MoC Grand Prix in December, we’re looking forward to the event serving as a Season closer for Nigeria’s Athletes, and we hope to follow up with the fourth edition very quickly in March or April 2021, when Africa would hopefully have more or less recovered from this dreadful virus by then.”

In the last few years, the MoC Grand Prix has become Nigeria’s largest annual competition asides the National Championships and has witnessed an influx of the country’s top athletes at each edition. It has also become a regular and one of the most important fixtures in the annual calendar of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), who is MoC’s Technical Partner for the event, ensuring all races are timed electronically and all results ratified and recognized globally by World Athletics.

The MoC Grand Prix has become a regular fixture in the Nigerian Athletics calendar.

About 400 athletes, including several National Champions and Commonwealth Games Medallists from Gold Coast 2018, attended the 1st MoC Grand Prix & Relays in 2018, which had Sports Betting and Lottery company Baba Ijebu as the lead sponsor, awarding prize money to over 80 Athletes across 27 events! 

The number of athletes attending the 2nd MoC Grand Prix in 2019 increased to 500  with 28 individual events being featured and prize money awarded to over 50 Athletes, courtesy of well-wishers and ex-Nigerian International Athletes from around the world. The event attracted interest from Athletes across West & Central Africa, with one Athlete from Benin Republic registering and Athletes from as far away as Cameroon and Niger also expressing interest in the competition. 

The 3rd MoC Grand Prix & Relays is set to be the biggest and most important edition of the event to date, with the Event set to serve as a crucial Olympic Qualifier for Nigeria’s and Africa’s Athletes, whether it is able to hold in December 2020, or even if it has to wait until March/April 2021. Making of Champions is committed to providing more opportunities for African Athletes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, and is looking forward to hearing from Athletes across the continent, as to the viability for such an event in December or early next year! Here are the links to the survey once more:

In English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3rdMoCGrandPrixPreReg

In French: https://fr.surveymonkey.com/r/3emeMoCGrandPrixPreReg

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games and IAAF World Championships. She has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and currently hosts a weekly Track and Field column in the Vanguard Newspaper.

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