Despite the postponement of the National Sports Festival and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr. Sunday Dare has revealed that the Ministry is very much in touch with each of the athletes.
He disclosed this in an interview after the inspection of facilities being made available for use as distribution centres to curb the spread of the virus at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.
The Minister said, “The Nigerian authority through the Sports Ministry called off the National Sports Festival. Several of our athletes overseas could not practice again because the sporting facilities were shut down. What we have done as a Ministry and as a country is to be in touch with each one of them because we have a database, to know what their plans are, to know what support they it need.
“The Adopt an Athlete plan that we have, the funds are going to them so we are happy that those funds can help them at this period when some of them 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 added that the country would stick to 11 Sports as earlier agreed and that funds have been released for pending qualifiers which those athletes can go for as soon as the spread of virus is stemmed. He urged the athletes to continue to practice even as the Ministry continues to plan and strategise.
Revealing that the athletes are also lending their voices to curb the spread of COVID-19, he said, “As we speak, in another two days, the athletes both foreign and home based in this country, 33 of them are completing a video to join their voices to the awareness campaign including myself. Its being produced as we speak. You will see our athletes from across the world and also home-based speaking and giving out messages of encouragement. So they’re really involved in this and I think that we will be prepared whenever the Olympics will be ready. What is of the utmost urgency right now is that effort to make sure that COVID-19’s spread is contained and this country can be free again.”