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Edo athletes hit camp for sports festival, Mills wants Tokyo Olympics cancelled

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Edo State athletes and their coaches are expected to hit camp tomorrow ahead of the February 14 commencement date of the 20th National Sports Festival.

The festival, tagged Edo 2020, was earlier fixed for January 3, 2021, but the state government kicked against it. It was initially slated for March 2020 but was postponed to December due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.

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However, the state is set to flag off preparation for the festival tomorrow. Former Sports Commissioner, Brown Ebewele told The Guardian yesterday that Team Edo would begin an open camping tomorrow. “The open camp will begin on January 23, and it will see the athletes and their coaches coming from home to train,” he said.

Ebewele, a board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) continues: “On February 1, the entire contingent will move into close camping. Team Edo is made up of about 720 athletes and coaches. I am sure this camping period will be enough to prepare the athletes well for the sports festival.”

While Team Edo and other states are gearing up for the 20th National Sports Festival amidst rising cases of COVID-19 pandemic, organisers of the Tokyo Olympics Games have been told to ‘make plans for a cancellation.’

With the Olympics scheduled to start in six months, the host city is currently under an emergency order after a surge of coronavirus cases across Japan.

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Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Prime Minister, and the International Olympic Committee are both adamant the Games will go ahead.

But Sir Keith Mills, deputy chair of the London 2012 organising committee, said: “Sitting here and looking at the pandemic around the world, in South America, in North America, in Africa, and across Europe, it looks unlikely.

“If I was sitting in the shoes of the organising committee in Tokyo, I would be making plans for a cancellation and I’m sure they have plans for a cancellation.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Mills added: “I think they will leave it until absolutely the last minute in case the situation improves dramatically, in case the vaccinations roll out faster than we all hope.”

“It’s a tough call, I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes. It would be a tragedy for everyone. The knock-on effect of this, not just in Tokyo and Japan but right around the world, shouldn’t be underestimated. It is massive.”

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Last week, a Japanese cabinet minister said that the delayed Games may not go ahead – although the organising committee has insisted that the idea of postponing again has never been discussed.

“We need to do the best we can to prepare for the Games at this moment, but it could go either way,’ Taro Kono, administrative and regulatory reform minister, said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference.”

A global COVID-19 resurgence, including record infection levels in Japan, has raised fresh doubts about the Games.

The government last Wednesday expanded its state of emergency well beyond the Tokyo region.

The Japanese public’s appetite for the sporting extravaganza has waned, with 77 per cent of respondents in a survey last week saying it should be canceled or postponed.

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