Tokyo 2020: African Games to Serve as Benchmark for Preparation, Says Dare

*Pledges to embrace public private partnership for maintenance of facilities

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, said Thursday in Abuja that Nigeria’s performance at the African Games in Morocco would serve as a benchmark for preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Team Nigeria won a total of 121 medals made up of 46 gold, 33 silver and 47 bronze to finish second behind Egypt at the Games in Rabat.

Briefing State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Dare said if Team Nigeria had only seven weeks to prepare for the Games and still performed creditably well.

He further observed that if Nigeria had had a longer period of preparation, the team would have performed better. “So, there is a lesson learnt from there,” Dare stressed.

Egypt, emerged top on the medal table of the African Games with 99 gold, 96 silver and 69 bronze medals to bring their total medals haul to 264. South Africa finished third with a total of 87 medals.

Fielding questions from journalists on whether he would make a difference in the sport sector by maintaining sports’ facilities across the country, the minister said his administration was poised to entrench a culture of maintenance in the sector.

He, however, added that such maintenance is very expensive, noting that effective maintenance of stadia across the country for instance, would cost an average of N2 billion annually.

The sports minister also disclosed that in the bid to meet the yearly maintenance cost, the ministry would embrace public private partnership particularly through the concession of some of the facilities.

“I want to bring a new culture of maintenance. It will cost N2 billion on average to maintain the stadia every year. We are considering private public partnership particularly concession, ” he hinted of his plans.

With the next Olympic Games barely a year away in Tokyo, Japan, Dare’s immediate task now is how to ensure Team Nigeria performed better than the lone bronze medal the John Obi Mikel led Dream Team won at the last Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. Nigeria did not win any medal at London 2012.

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