Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare says the 20th National Sports Festival in Edo will go ahead as planned from April 2 to April 14 under strict COVID-19 protocols.
Dare also said that the reduced 8,000 athletes and officials for the Games would go through all the necessary COVID-19 protocols.
The minister’s Special Adviser (Media), John Joshua-Akanji, quoted him as giving the assurance on Friday in Benin after a facility tour of the venue and meeting with Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo.
Dare said the camp for the festival would open on April 2 while the official opening of the Games would be done by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 6.
He said that said that the ministry was working with relevant health stakeholders to ensure that the COVID-19 safety protocols were observed.
“We are working closely with the PTF, NCDC and others to ensure that the necessary support we need in terms of vaccination of athletes, test kits will be available.
“We are also toning down the number of athletes that would be participating from 14,000 to 8,000.
“I must thank the governor and his deputy for taking the lead on this,” he said.
On accommodation of athletes, he said the University of Benin had been secured to host the athletes.
“We have been able to get the University of Benin to host our athletes.
“There are still some work to be done here which may not be in the radar, but everything is on track I can tell you with certainty that the Edo National Sports Festival will hold, ” he assured.
Dare said that he had a fruitful discussion with Gov. Obaseki and his deputy on hosting a befitting NSF despite the challenges.
“After meeting with the governor and his deputy, we are reassured that we are on track to host a successful National Sports Festival.
All obstacles have been cleared, we are ready for a great festival. The event is coming at the most auspicious time when we are preparing for the Olympics.
This is our local Olympics and we shall make the most of it, the President has given his nod for the Festival to take place, there’s no going back, ” he added.
The Festival had suffered numerous postponement since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and paucity of funds from the Edo state government.
The minister said that a special presentation had to be made to President Buhari for funds to support Edo after the governor declared that the state lacked the resources to host the Festival.