Plans are in place to hold the 2020 National Sports Festival, scheduled for Edo State, in August, our correspondent has learnt.
The sports festival, which was initially billed to hold between March 22 and April 1, was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A member of one of the committees in the Local Organising Committee, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, confirmed the development.
The source told Saturday PUNCH that Edo State Deputy Governor, Phillip Shaibu, who is also the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, dropped the hint in a gathering recently.
“There are feelers to that effect but we are yet to get clearance because nobody is sure when COVID-19 is going to be over, and it’s not going to be over overnight, it’s a gradual process,” our source said.
“Everything is set for the hosting of the NSF, the stadium has been completed, if you go to the hostels now, they are fully set to accommodate the athletes and officials.”
Coordinator of Team Edo to the NSF, Brown Ebewele, however said the time was not ripe for the festival to take place.
He said the political atmosphere in the state would not allow the NSF to hold until the swearing in of the Governor of the State, which is scheduled for November 12, following the completion of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s first term in office.
“Nobody is talking about festival now, people are talking about coronavirus. The political timetable in Edo State will not allow the festival to come earlier than November.
“Political parties will hold their primaries next month and once they finish the primaries, campaigns will start before the elections on September 19,” Ebewele told Saturday PUNCH.
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, had said that the National Council on Sports would take a decision on the sports festival at the end of May.
“We are monitoring, we need to look at the COVID-19 situation in Edo State, whether it has been flattened. Do they have the health infrastructure?
“The National Council on Sports will look at the situation surrounding it and I think at the end of this month, we are going to have a clearer picture of what will happen,” Dare told Splash FM.