MOC arrives Benin City, to decide fate of Edo sports festival
• Alao wants Games suspended due to COVID-19
The Main Organising Committee (MOC) for the 20th National Sports Festival, tagged Edo 2020, will arrive Benin City today to decide, among others things, the possibility of holding the Games from February 14-28.
The festival was earlier fixed for January 3, 2021, but the state government and some stakeholders kicked against it because of its closeness to the New Year festivities. It was initially slated for March 2020 but was postponed to December due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
A member of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Ebomhina Musa, told The Guardian yesterday, that the coming of MOC from Abuja today would determine a lot of things about the games. “We are expecting members of the MOC in Benin City tomorrow (today), and on Tuesday, they will embark on tour of facilities alongside members of the LOC to ascertain the level of our preparedness for the festival. Thereafter, the MOC will tell us whether the sports festival can commence on February 14 or not. For now, the date still stand,” he stated.
Musa, who is the spokesman to Edo State Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, as well as Secretary of Communication and Publicity of Edo Sports Festival, revealed that members of the LOC initially set up for the Games have been reduced. “We now have Project Managers in place of sub-committee members. The LOC has been scaled down drastically,” he said.
Meanwhile, chairman of Lagos State Athletics Association, Solomon Alao, has advised the Ministry of Youths and Sports to suspend the organisation of Edo National Festival and fashion out modalities with various state governors to compensate athletes for their efforts in training for the Games.
Alao feels it is unsafe for the sports festival to go on amid growing concerns and deaths being recorded on daily basis due to Covid-19 pandemics.
“To me, it will be dangerous for athletes from different parts of the country to be exposed to competitive atmosphere in the midst of COVID-19. To be sincere, it will be difficult to restrict the movement of athletes at such big event. To confine athletes to sporting arena, and prevent them from mixing with other members of the society before and during the games will be difficult.”
Alao wondered why the sports ministry is eager to put Nigerian athletes at risk of contacting COVID-19, stressing that putting the festival on hold till when the pandemic is well handled will not in anyway affect the careers of the athletes.
He also added that athletes should be given more active roles to play in the nation’s sports administration.
“I feel the sports ministry should put on hold the Edo National Sports Festival. They should compensate all the athletes for their training since last year. Their health is very important,” Alao stated.
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