By Ozioruva Aliu, Benin-City
Edo state government Monday said it would deploy 689 athletes and 236 officials 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) tagged Edo 2020 which it also boasted to host and win.
Addressing journalists in government house, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and Deputy Governor of the state, Comrade Philip Shaibu said despite the reduction in glamour the festival would suffer as a result of the COVID–19 pandemic, the state would organise a befitting festival with the state of the art facilities it has provided including the pitch at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium which he said the Nigerian Olympic team would use to prepare for the coming Tokyo Olympic games.
He said: “I can assure you that Edo state is prepared, our track is of the latest technology, it is the same track athletes will be using in Tokyo that is why Nigerian athletes will be using the facilities to prepare for Tokyo Olympic games.
“Though the opening and closing ceremony will not be as planned, I can assure you that the competition will be one of the best organised. Our athletes have been involved in a series of training and games to keep them fit and I can assure you that we are not only hosting, but we are hosting to win the competition.”
The Project Manager of the competition, Mrs Anehita Emeya said a total of 925 athletes and officials would represent Edo. According to her, “Team Edo have never stopped training even with the postponements, we have been training. What we will be doing now is harmonisation. We are ready to host and win.”
Shaibu also revealed that spectators hoping to watch live games would not have the opportunity to do so as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the games. He however noted that other channels where the games can be watched live by spectators have been put in place.
According to him, “TV stations will be beaming the games live while social media channels among others will also be live streaming the games.
He also appealed to the Federal Government for a quick release of funds to enable the State to host the festival.