Consequent to mounting pressure from several concerned quarters, in the face of increasing cases of the novel Corona Virus in Nigeria, the National Sports Festival, Edo 2020, due to be hosted by Edo State, has been postponed. The postponement was confirmed by the country’s Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
The reason for the postponement, according to the Minister was to safeguard public health due to reported cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
According to Presidency sources, President Muhammadu Buhari accented to the suggestion to suspend the hosting of the 2020 National Sports Festival, after being briefed by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development and the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora who pointed out that hosting the festival in the face of proven cases of the existence of the virus in the country would constitute serious health risks to Nigerians.
A third suspected Nigerian case of COVID-19 was recently recorded in Lagos when a Nigerian lady, aged 30, who had recently returned from the U.K tested positive to the virus. Another lady in Enugu State, and the Nigerian man who had contact with the Italian Index case have also tested positive, though recent reports suggested that the man has tested negative.
The national sports meet was due to commence from the 22nd of March, 2020 to the 1st of April, 2020. It would be recalled that the Minister had initially assured Nigerians that the competition would commence as planned as precautionary measures had been put in place to check the possible spread of the virus during the festival.
The new development is a welcome one as Nigerians were uneasy with government’s initial determination to go ahead with the competition in the face of the obvious implications of such a move. Across the globe, proactive steps such as suspension of sports competitions, closing off of borders, flight bans from countries with higher incidences of the virus and other safety measures are being taken to forestall worst case scenarios.
*** Franca. Joseph