BENIN CITY – The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports has set up an 11-man committee to look at a new possible date this year for the National Sports Festival to hold in Benin city, the Edo State capital.
The Games earlier scheduled to hold between March 20 and April 1st,2020 with all preparations already done,was postponed due to the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite some divergent views by some members at the National Council of Sports’ virtual meeting held yesterday, the consensus was that the competition should hold in Benin this year, the ministry said in a statement.
The 11-man committee is made up of members of the COVID-19 Task Force, NCDC, Commissioners of Sports from the six geo-political zones of the country and representatives of the Sports Ministry.
The committee were given 30 days to submit their report and recommendations.
Speaking during the virtual meeting chaired by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, contributors said although the COVID-19 pandemic was a source of concern, but that the Festival could go ahead if certain measures were put in place.
Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee,the Deputy Governor of Edo State Comrade Philip Shaibu, said, “We are ready to host the Festival, but other states may not be ready. The issue of health is something that we all take seriously.
“Isolation centres have been further expanded to bigger capacity. We have set up many testing centres that would screen athletes before and after games”. He added
On his part, the minister said, “after months of uncertainty, we need to chart a new course for our sports, just like it is being done globally. Our final decision will be based on consultations with the Ministry of Health and the National Task Force on COVID-19.”
In his view, a representative of the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Sports, Mr. Paul Bassey, said, “An health committee should be set up to work with the NCDC and the Ministry of Health to determine the possibility of going ahead with the sports Festival .” While some members said the Festival should hold before the Edo State election, others insisted on having the games held after the election.
Meanwhile, all the infrastructure including health facilities required for a successful National Sports Festival were already put in place by Edo state government before the federal government decision to put the games on hold following the importation of the dreaded virus into the country.