A Nigerian chess player, Oladapo Adu is crying out from the border between Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, due to a closure that has been caused by the ravaging effects of coronavirus, thereby preventing him from returning home after participating at an international competition, megasportsarena.com reports.
Adu disclosed that he travelled by road from the competition’s venue in Freetown, Sierra Leone, but had to return to the Ivorian capital, Abidjan on March 24, as officials did not allow him entry into Ghana, and he has now been has been stranded for 12 weeks and facing difficult conditions in eating and meeting all financial needs.
He stressed that continued flight restrictions and border closure have left him stuck, but he is currently staying with friends of Cote d’Ivoire’s Simplice Delgundo, a fellow-competitor from the Zone 4.2 Individual Chess Championship, which ended on March 20 in Freetown, where he travelled to from the United States in order to represent Nigeria.
However, escalating cases of coronavirus infections across the world led to the ban on domestic and international flights as well as the closure of land borders; such that though Adu embarked on a road trip to Lagos, since he was unable to connect a flight from Freetown to Lagos, but he was not allowed to pass through the Ivory Coast border by Ghanaian police.
He recounted that, while a Ghanaian player was let into his country, Adu was restricted from crossing and was escorted back into into Ivory Coast by police officers from the other side, but the situation got complicated when his luggage got missing at the border and he is yet to find it; even as he thanked Delgundo for helping him get a room, where he sleeps with three others.
The highly-rated chess master, who had been looking to cement his place as Africa’s top chess player and holds the record of winning the championship back-to-back, added that he is sad and disappointed that Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF) and the country’s government have not given any support to help him end the plight, which he never expected to face when leaving the US.
Adu told BBC Sport Africa: “I left the USA to Freetown to represent Nigeria and this is all I get for it – nothing. I am disappointed and broken. I have to control my emotions – I have so much bottled up in me.
“This is a tournament I have won twice in the past. On record, I am the only player that has won this tournament back to back. This is so traumatising and demoralising – I am living with strangers in a strange land.
“The coronavirus had been in the news but not serious to stop the championship from going on. Suddenly, the situation heightened and we had to end the championship on the 20 March. My return flight was scheduled for 22 March but Air Cote d’ivoire cancelled all its flights due to the pandemic.
“The Ivorian stayed back in Liberia while the Ghanaian and I proceeded to Abidjan and on to the Ivory Coast-Ghana border. It took us three days to reach Abidjan from Freetown by road. Simplice has done so much for me and has been of great help – I would have been on the streets with nowhere to go without him.”