The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Monday in Abuja urged Nigerian athletes to keep hope alive in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media, John Joshua-Akanji, made the call on the occasion of the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace.
“On this historic day of the celebration of the United Nations International Day of Sports for Development and Peace, which is celebrated soberly due to the COVID-19 scourge, I urge all our sports men and women to remain steadfast, strong and to keep hope alive.
“As athletes, you remain the beacon of hope to unite Nigerians to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Sports for Development and Peace,” Dare was quoted as saying.
He urged athletes to use sports to foster peace and unity in the country.
“You must use sports to foster peace, unity and lend support to those that are down. As sports men and women, you have an obligation to take up the symbolic role of lifting the spirit of our fellow country men and women.
“In spite of the experience the world is going through, we must not allow our spirit of unity, love, care for each other to wane.
“In our little corners, let us celebrate by getting active through exercises in our homes, a walk in the park and encouraging each other to stay safe,” the minister said.
He went on to describe sports as a unifying factor that must be leveraged upon by all and sundry.
“Sports remains the most powerful tool that unites the world during peace and war, and this experience will only strengthen our resolve to win always.
“Sports fosters peace and unity, it breaks all human barriers and promotes healthy living. As we seek to overcome this pandemic, let us encourage those that have caught the virus to be strong and resolute. Together we shall overcome.
“I encourage every Nigerian not to allow their spirit to be dampened, but use the occasion of the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace to spread the message of peace through sports,” Dare added.
The United Nations had on Aug. 23 proclaimed April 6 of every year as the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace.
This was in commemoration of the opening date of the modern Olympics which started in Athens in 1896.
This year is being celebrated without the usual fanfare due to the COVID-19 scourge.
The UN has urged everyone to mark the occasion with increased awareness about the COVID-19 pandemic and how to stay safe.(NAN)