In what turned to be an unanimous decision members of the National Council on Sports, the Country’s highest Sports decision body from their virtual extra ordinary meeting agreed that the National Sports Festival slated for Edo should hold before the end of the year 2020.
The virtual Extra-ordinary meeting of the National Council on Sports Was called to deliberate on the possibility of hosting the 20th National Sports Festival this year 2020 in view of the health challenge posed by the scourge of COVID-19.
In his keynote address to critical stakeholders; the Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare said “Nigeria, given it’s position as a sporting nation must begin to chart it’s path out of the COVID-19 pandemic from the premises of challenges and Opportunities. Hence, the rationale for this meeting . This meeting of the National Council has been called to deliberate on the possibility of hosting the 20th National Sports Festival this year, 2020.
The Minister, while chairing the meeting comprising the Deputy Gov. Edo State, Comrade Phillip Shuaibu, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Gabriel Aduda, Commissioners of Sports, Permanent Secretaries of State Ministries of Sports, Chairmen, Directors and Sports Administrators across the country: said “Before arriving at the possibility of holding the NSF this year, the issues to discuss amongst others are: what are the conditions precedents that must be on ground before a new date? what should be the roles and responsibilities of major stakeholders towards the execution of the NSF in a COVID-19 environment? what should be the nature of the NSF in terms of duration, size of contingent…”
Pressing further on rules for engagement, Mr. Dare emphatically stated that “beyond these questions is the bigger issue of the provision of the necessary COVID-19 prevention and treatment infrastructure viz body scanners, testing kits, face masks and sanitizers, temperature kits, isolation centres, PPEs, ventilators, hospitals and health personnel. Equally, the enforcement of COVID-19 protocol of regular sanitizing of our hands, washing with water and soap, wearing of face masks, keeping the physical distance rule and observing global best practices in general.
Also, the Minister charged participants, that “overall, we must discuss on ways to have an abridged or modulate version of the Festival. This may involve a reduction in the number of sports, especially contact Sports, team sports, events and participants to the festival.”
Dare said: “Our sportsmen and women need to gradually come back to training and competitions. This is necessary to oil their career and keep them meaningfully engaged.
Mr. Dare further admonished participants by way of caution when he said: “However, I must sound a note of caution: this process of review today must not be seen as a rush to full sporting activities or a rush to hold the NSF. Any such return will be guided and will be a function of the trend if the variables – flattening the curve, a cue from the PTF on the COVID-19 and consultations with key stakeholders and in this case even the athletes and the global sports response.
Nonetheless, we should be seen to continually be working to achieve the objectives of the National Sports Festival which are skill development of our athletes and priming them ahead of major International events, especially the Olympic and Paralympic Games coming up in 2021. The various States have invested heavily in the training, equipment, kits and sports infrastructure for the 2020 National Sports Festival before it’s postponement. We should not allow these efforts and resources to go to waste.”
The Council which has about 87 members participating took robust contributions from members who were all in support of hosting the games this year but want a committee to monitor and ensure necessary variables were in place in Edo State.
An 11-man committee was set up with a 30-day deadline to report back on the possibility and practicability of hosting the games and suggesting possible dates.
The National Sports Policy review presently under review also was discussed especially the sports industry component with a promise by the Minister that council members will get an information pack and be consulted.
Members of the Committee constituted to work out the modalities for the successful organization of the 20th National Sports Festival are:
a. Hon. Commissioner Of Sports, Anambra State – South East
b. Chairman, Delta State Sports Commission- South -South
c. Hon. Commissioner of Sports, Kogi State- North Central
d. Hon. Commissioner of Sports- Kaduna State , North-West
e. Hon. Commissioner of Sports, Gombe – North-East
f. Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission- South West
g. Rep. of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19
h. Rep. of the Federal Ministry of Health
i. Rep. of the National Center for Disease Control
j. Dr. Simon Ebhojiaye – FMYSD
k. Tunde Kazeem – Dir. of Sports Forum
l. Mr. Peter Nelson – FMYSD (Secretary)