Nigeria’s former long jumper Yusuf Ali has claimed that the African Games are “no longer glamorous” as this year’s edition continues in Morocco.
The 59-year-old won the Commonwealth Games title in Auckland in 1990 and boasts two African Games silver medals.
He has represented his country at eight editions of the continental event in all, as an athlete, team manager and coach, but believes the multi-sport gathering now suffers from a lack of promotion and prestige.
“In Nigeria we have lost the hype around the African Games,” he said to Premium Times.
“In those days [when Alli competed] when you walked around the streets of the country, especially Lagos, you would know Nigeria is going for the African Games.
“But this year, honestly people are even asking questions – ‘when is African Games, have they started?’ – when the Games is already ongoing.
“I think this year, everything is down, perhaps because of the economic downturn across the world including in Nigeria.
“For me the African Games is no longer glamorous as it used to be, even the athletes, the Games is no longer showbiz as it used to be.
“In those days, weeks, months before the African Games, athletes already have their wares, your tracksuits and all your kits are ready.
“But now, I doubt it, I don’t even know the colours they would be wearing.”
Morocco is hosting this year’s Games at short notice with most events in capital Rabat.
They agreed to step in when Equatorial Guinea pulled out over financial problems last year.
The Opening Ceremony was on August 19 and the Games will run until August 31.
Twenty-six sports are on the programme with 54 countries and 6,500 athletes competing.