The chairman of Edo 2020 National Sports Festival Committee, Tonobok Okowa, has cleared the air concerning reports in some media organizations that the festival had been scheduled for October this year stating that only the Federal Government can fix the dates.
Okowa, who is the chairman of Delta Sports Commission, said that the dates being circulated by a section of the media were a recommendation that came up after the committee reviewed the situation on ground with the Edo state government.
“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.”
“He proceeds: “What Edo State government did was to propose conditional dates, which the games service should investigate. It isn’t right for certain individuals to get down to business saying that we have fixed a date for Edo 2020 National Sports celebration,’ Okowa expressed.
As a result of the COVID-19 Outbreak which affected the word in general, The Celebration of the festival had been affected which led to an initial postponement early this year March to be precise. The 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 both in local and foreign sports activities.
The Honourable Minister of Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare had inaugurated the 11-man committee to inspect all health facilities for the festival in Edo State to 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 3-day tour of sports facilities in Edo state on June 11.
Meanwhile, Tony Okowa says the committee was satisfied with the level of preparation by Edo State, adding that everything needed to fight COVID-19 was on the ground in the state before going ahead.
“We have seen the facilities on the ground in the state. We have been to the state specialist hospitals, the University of Benin Teaching Hospitals, the testing centers, the screening centers, and the isolation centers. 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 22nd date announced by Edo State government for the opening of the Games Village and October 25 for the 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.