The Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the 2020 National Sports Festival (NSF) says the state is putting finishing touches to preparations for the event scheduled for Feb. 14 to Feb. 28.
Musa Ebomhiana, the LOC’s Head of Communications/Media, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that all needed for the festival, especially as it concerns observing the COVID-19 protocols, have been provided.
Ebomhiana, who is the Chief Press Secretary to Edo’s Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, said this was important as the festival had witnessed two postponements because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can assure that the festival will hold this time around.”
He added that he was confident the state can now host any international competition of any magnitude, going by what they have on ground now to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The LOC official argued that there was now no reason not to hold the event tagged “Edo 2020”.
“COVID-19 pandemic has been there and the 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season is also on now.
“So, since football has a lot to do with contact, why can we not have the National Sports Festival?
“The One Service One Medal (OSOM) Games Also took place last week, while other events have been taking place where people gather from across the country.
”So, what is the difference between those ones and the National Sports Festival?” he said.
Ebomhiana explained that adequate measures to curtail any spread of COVID-19 had been taken.
“As regards COVID-19, all the things they said we should put in place are now in place.
“We will also have a certificate of clearance for every athlete and official coming into Edo. They have to present it before being accredited.
“Equally, individuals must wash their hands and observe the protocols of wearing face masks and washing of hands before entry into every venue of the game, and they must be certified free of the virus before they leave Edo,” he said.
The LOC official added that nine venues, including the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, have been renovated and equipped for the two-week sports event.
Ebomhiana added that in order to adequately manage the event, the festival had been divided into two phases as part of strategies to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have nine venues, and we have a stadium which can take about 15,000 but which will not take more than 1,000.
“That is why I say everything has been put in place as directed the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the National Council on Sports which met in Asaba late last year.
“They gave us guidelines on what to put in place and we have done all that and the games will begin on Feb. 14 to to end on Feb 28, while the opening ceremony is on Feb. 16.
“And, the essence of The festival being in two phases is for it not to be crowded. By the time we finish phase one, the athletes will depart the state.
“So, these are the guidelines and I believe they were well articulated and well digested by stakeholders who participated in that meeting in Asaba, and we have been having virtual meetings with the Sports Ministry on the organisation,” he added.
The LOC official listed the first phase games to include athletics, deaf athletics, para athletics, ayo, beach volleyball, dambe and golf.
“The rest are gymnastics, judo, langa, deaf table tennis, para table tennis, table tennis, taekwondo, para-lifting and weightlifting.
“The games for the second phase are abula, badminton, chess, darts, karate, kickboxing, kokawa, kung fu, scrabble, squash, tennis and wrestling.
“The venues for each of these games have been well outlined,” he stated.(NAN)