Despite the postponement of the National Sports Festival and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has assured that the ministry was monitoring the athletes.
According to him: “The Nigerian authorities through the Sports Ministry called off the National Sports Festival as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“This means several of our athletes overseas can no longer practice because the sporting facilities were shut down.
“We are in touch with each one of them through a database to monitor their plans and to understand the kind of support they need.
“Despite the postponement, the Adopt-an-Athlete plan is ongoing and the funds are going to them. So we are happy that those funds can help them at this period when they cannot make money from competitions.
“They are free to leverage on that; they can also look for indoor facilities where they can practice. They can pay to use those facilities, so there’s a continuous engagement with our athletes.”
The Minister insisted Nigeria would stick to 11 sports for the Olympics as earlier decided, even as funds would be released for pending qualifiers which the athletes can attend as soon as the virus is stemmed. He urged them not to relent in their training, even as the Ministry will continue to plan and strategise.
Dare said: “As we speak, in another two days, 33 of the athletes – both foreign and home-based – are completing a video message to lend their voices to the awareness campaign including myself.
“It’s being produced as we speak. Our athletes from across the world and the home-based will be giving out messages of encouragement.
“We will be prepared whenever the Olympics will hold. What is of the utmost urgency right now is to ensure that COVID-19’s spread is contained so we can all be free again.”