The 20th edition of Nigeria’s National Sports Festival has yet again been rescheduled to hold between February 14 and 18 in Benin City, Edo State. This was the outcome of the Extra Ordinary Council of Sports virtual meeting which held on Tuesday.
This new date is the fourth time the Nigerian ‘Olympics’ will be rescheduled after Covid-19 knocked off the initial kick off date of March 23, 2020.
In the highlight of the meeting obtained by THISDAY Tuesday night, Sports Minister and Chairman of the Council, Sunday Dare; and Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee and Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu agreed on the new date instead of the bickering that followed the January3-18, 2021 proposed earlier by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19.
Shaibu was reported to have expressed his displeasure with how the PTF handled the earlier rescheduling of the festival for early January without taking into consideration that both athletes and officials would have just been returning from the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
In view of the many postponements suffered by the festival and the huge costs the host state has expended in getting her facilities ready for the event, Shaibu pleaded with the sports minister to help make case for financial support for Edo State Government.
The Edo Deputy Governor also pleaded that the relief package be also extended to the states whose athletes have at several times been camped toward their participation at Edo 2020.
The Council of Sports meeting also agreed that proper awareness be put in place for all athletes and officials to be conscious of the prevalent of Covid-19 and observe all necessary protocols to avoid getting infected.
The 20th National Sports Festival has suffered series of postponement with the latest dates also likely to suffer similar fate given the recent spike in Covid-19 cases in the country. There are even fears of fresh lockdown in some states.
Sources close to the LOC chairman’s office disclosed that the host, Edo State, was looking at the possibility of the festival holding in April next year.