After the event suffers from delays and several postponements the 2020 National Sports Festival finally begins on Sunday, April 4, 2021, amidst watertight COVID-19 Protocols.
The event begins with a press conference addressed by the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shuaibu who also doubles as the chairman of the Local Organising Committee.
Addressing Journalists in Edo on Thursday, Shuaibu said about 8,000 athletes are expected as the initial projection of 14,000 athletes cannot be feasible in face of the COVID-19 realities to give room for social distancing.
“From about 14,000 athletes that we were expecting, we have been able to reduce it to about 8,000 athletes. We have a facility prepared for about 18,000 persons, which has now provided opportunity and space for social distancing even in the accommodation. We will have a game that is COVID-19 free,” he assured.
The Games Village was opened on Friday as teams with negative PCR certificates and that have been vaccinated against the virus will be admitted as Taraba and Oyo were sent back due to failure to comply with the basic laid procedures by the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control, NCDC.
The Deputy Governor said:
“The visa to be admitted into the Games Village is the evidence that you have taken the COVID-19 vaccine. Athletes at the Games village will also take the PCR test 72 hours before the commencement of the games. We are not going to compromise on that as we have agreed with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
“As a state, we have been able to flatten the curve of the second wave of the pandemic and will not want to use the hosting of the games to spark off another wave.”
Meanwhile, hostilities will begin on Easter Sunday 4th of April, 2021 as 13 events have been lined up for the day, are Boxing, Badminton, Cricket, Cycling, Kickboxing, Judo, Karate, Handball.
Other events on Sunday are Kakawa, Squash, Swimming, Scrabble, Tennis and Taekwondo, to end the activities of the first day.
The Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo is expected to officially declare the Games open on Tuesday, April 6, after the Easter celebration break.
The National Sports Festival began in 1973 in Lagos. A sporting event organised by the Federal Government through the ministry of sports to foster national unity and promote sports development in the country.
The competition is largely seen in Nigeria’s Olympics, and as serve as a platform where burden talents were discovered went on to represent the country in international competitions.
Follow Olusola Adebayo on Twitter @sportspedal