• States in dilemma over poor finances
• Okowa expresses worries over COVID-19 surge
The build-up to the February 14 commencement date of the 20th National Sports Festival in Edo State seems to be shrouded with uncertainty once again.
The Ministry of Youths and Sports Development had, in November last year, moved the festival from December 3 – 18 to January 3 – 17, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The date was later shifted to February 14 – 28, 2021 by the National Council on Sports (NCS) following stakeholders’ complains that it would be unwise for athletes to compete two days after the New Year festivity.
However, what appears another major hurdle ahead the February 14 commencement date may have cropped up, following alleged poor finances by some directors of sports.
The Guardian learnt yesterday that many directors of sports, whose responsibility is to prepare the athletes for the sports festival are currently operating at ‘zero levels’ following poor financial position of their states.
According to one Director of Sports in the south-east region, the series of postponement suffered by the sports festival had rendered it unfashionable, adding that the ‘little money’ approved by the state government was spent for camping of athletes and purchase of sports equipment ahead of the original date of the competition last year.
“As it is now, I doubt if we will be able to attend the sports festival because the sports council is really broke. Our state government is not ready to listen to anybody regarding the sports festival for now. The series of postponement has made the National Sports Festival lose its colour. It has not really helped the matter. Unless a miracle happens, we might not attend the festival in February because the money to prepare the athletes is no longer there. We are not the only one affected. A majority of my colleagues in the south-west and in the north are also complaining of poor finances,” the director said anonymously.
The chairman of Delta Sports Commission, Tony Okowa, is not concerned about funding; rather his major worry is the surge in COVID-19 pandemics.
“The National Sports Festival has been fixed for February 14 – 28, 2021 in Edo State, but the rise in COVID-19 pandemic is my biggest worry. I just hope it won’t affect the take-off date because the festival has suffered so many postponements. If other states are ready, Team Delta is ready.”
It would be recalled that the festival tagged ‘Edo 2020’ was originally scheduled for March 2020, but was postponed three days to its take-off due to the outbreak of COVID-19.