Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Monday set up an 11-man committee to inspect health facilities for the National Sports Festival tagged Edo 2020.
The festival was earlier scheduled for March 22 to April 1 in Benin City, the Edo State capital, but was called off due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The committee, which was set up during the National Council of Sports virtual meeting chaired by Dare on Monday, is made up of members of the COVID-19 Task Force, officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Commissioners of Sports from the six geo-political zones and representatives of the sports ministry.
Our correspondent learnt that despite divergent views by members of the National Council of Sports, there was an agreement for the festival to be held this year.
But while some members said the event should hold before the Edo State governorship election in September, others said it should be held after the polls.
Dare said, “After months of uncertainty, we need to chart a new course for our sports, just like it’s being done globally. Our final decision will be based on consultations with the Ministry of Health and the National Task Force on COVID-19.”
Edo State Deputy Governor Philip Shuaibu said the state was ready to host Edo 2020 amidst the pandemic.
Shaibu, who is also the Chairman of the festival’s Local Organising Committee, said the state had put in place health facilities to ensure that participants at the national sports event were safe during the duration of the Games.
“We are ready to host the festival, but other states may not be ready. The issue of health is something that we all take seriously. Isolation centres (in Edo State) have been further expanded to bigger capacities. We have set up many testing centres that would screen athletes before and after games,” Shaibu stated.
However, a representative of the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Sports during the meeting, Paul Bassey, said a health committee should be set up to work with the NCDC and the Ministry of Health to determine the possibility of the festival taking place.