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Team Edo, Delta count losses from postponement of Sports Festival

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What next? Many states have decamped their athletes following the postponement of the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival.<br />PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

• Okowa shocked, decamps athletes
• We spent over N20million on tickets for foreign-based athletes, says official

Hosts, Edo State, and defending champions of the National Sports Festival, Team Delta, are counting their ‘huge’ losses following the postponement of the National Sports Festival yesterday.

President Muhammadu Buhari approved the postponement of Edo 2020 yesterday, three days to its commencement as a precautionary move against the spread of the dreaded COVID-19.

According to the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, the move was to curb the spread of the pandemic coronavirus.

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Dare said: “following the briefing of Mr. President from myself and the Minister of State for Health on COVID 19, Mr. President approved the immediate postponement of Edo Sports festival to a future date.”

With no new date in sight for the Sports Festival, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu spoke at a press conference yesterday saying: “The postponement has become necessary as a result of the shutdown of socio-economic activities in various countries across the world due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“Although there is no pandemic of the disease in Nigeria and the Edo State Government is fully prepared to host the Games and handle eventualities and any other disease, we have decided to err on the side of caution and also show sensitivity to the plight of other countries dealing with the challenge,” he stated.

The Secretary of Publicity and Communication Sub-Committee of the LOC, Mr. Ebomhiana Musa, told The Guardian that Team Edo athletes and officials had been decamped. “They have been decamped for now, rest for two weeks and return to open camp,” Musa stated.

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For Team Delta, the postponement of the sports festival in the 11th hour came with a huge cost.

An official of Team Delta told The Guardian yesterday that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had spent a lot of money preparing the team for the festival.

“As we speak, the Chairman of the Sports Commission (Tony Okowa) is dumbfounded,” the official said. “We spent over N3 million daily for feeding and payment of camp allowances to the athletes. We have 977 athletes and 171 officials in camp. The athletes get N1, 500 as daily allowance, while the officials collect N3, 500. We have 34 foreign-based athletes for the sports festival, and three of them (volleyball players) are already in Asaba. We have spent over N20 million on flight tickets alone. This postponement is a big blow to us. Our athletes may be decamped tomorrow (today),” the official stated.

He gave the names of the three foreign-based female volleyball players already in Asaba for the Sports Festival as Mercy Promise (Cyprus), Onyearone Verere (United Kingdom) and Angela Ebele (Beckford, England).

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