• ‘FG to decide on competition’s timeline’
The chairman of Edo 2020 National Sports Festival Committee, Tonobok Okowa, has clarified the committee’s position on the timeline for the festival, saying that only the Federal Government can fix dates for the competition.
Speaking on widely circulated reports that the festival had been scheduled for October this year, Okowa said the dates were suggestions after the committee reviewed the situation on ground with the Edo State government. He added that the Federal Government could either accept or reject the suggestion according to the dictates of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Okowa, who is the chairman of Delta Sports Commission, said, “In the first place, we as a committee cannot fix a date for the National Sports Festival. It is the sole responsibility of the Sports Ministry to fix the date after getting clearance from the relevant agencies handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What Edo State government did was to suggest tentative dates, which the sports ministry will have to look into. It is wrong for some people to go to town saying that we have fixed a date for Edo 2020 National Sports festival,” Okowa stated.
The festival was postponed in March this year due to the outbreak of the Corona Virus Pandemic worldwide. A presidential committee was set up by the Federal Government to see to the hosting of the biennial event, which is aimed at discovering and nurturing local talents to represent Nigeria in regional and international sporting events.
Sports Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare, inaugurated the 11-man committee to inspect all health facilities for the festival in Edo State and ascertain the readiness of the state in hosting the sports festival.
The committee, made up of members of the Covid-19 Task Force, NCDC, Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and six states’ Commissioners of Sports each representing the six geo-political zones of the country, as well as representatives of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, began a three-day tour of sports facilities in Edo state on June 10.
After the inspection, Okowa said the committee was satisfied with the level of preparation by Edo State, adding that everything needed to fight COVID-19 have been put in place by the hosts.
“We have seen the facilities on ground in the state. We have been to the state specialist hospitals, the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, the testing centres, the screening centres and the isolation centres.”
We have been briefed on the ones to be improved upon and the steps the state is taking. We are impressed and convinced that Edo State is ready to host the National Sports Festival this year 2020.
“The October 22 date announced by Edo State government for the opening of the Games Village and October 25 for commencement of the sports festival, as well as the November 4 for the closing ceremony are just recommendations. The actual date can only come from the Federal Government,” Okowa stated.