Nigeria: COVID-19 - Nigerian Athletes Under Close Watch, Says Sports Minister

30 March 2020

Despite the postponement of the 20th National Sports Festival and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has assured the nation that the ministry was monitoring the athletes.

According to him: "The Nigerian authorities through the Sports Ministry called off the National Sports Festival as 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 our database to monitor their plans and to know the kind of support they need.

" Despite the postponement, the 'Adopt-an-Athlete' project 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," observed the minister yesterday.

Dare insisted that Nigeria would stick to 11 sports for the Olympics as earlier decided, even as funds would be released 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 to support them.

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 on how to curb the spread of the virus. I am also involved in the campaign. It's being produced as we speak.

He said Nigerian athletes from across the world "will be giving out messages of encouragements to our fellow citizens."

Dare said the country's athletes "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."

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