Sporting activities shut down early March this year to curb the spread of the Covi-19 pandemic in the country are to resume any moment from now.
However, until the Federal Government gives the go-ahead, the sector will remain under locks and keys.
The biggest casualty of the lockdown of sports activities was the 20th National Sports Festival scheduled to hold between late March and early April in Benin City, Edo State and the country’s topflight league, the NPFL.
Speaking on a Voice of Nigeria (VON) radio programme, Issues in the News yesterday, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, said that plans have reached an advanced stage on how to open up the space for sports to return after nearly four months lockdown.
The minister however insisted that non-combat sports like table tennis, tennis, badminton and track & field will be amongst the first set to return from the forced holiday due to the pandemic.
“We hope that our athletes can get back to action soon with non-combat sports first to return.
Dare was however non-committal on exact date set for the return of sporting activities.
“Although no date has been set, but we must submit to the Covid-19 protocols in line with the practice all over the world,” stressed the minister.
While admitting that all health protocols must be observed by athletes and officials, he didn’t state if fans would be allowed to also return to the stands.
“We have submitted our (health) protocol and hopefully, our athletes would soon be back to compete,” concludes the minister.
Despite 18 out of the 20 football clubs in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) voting to end the 2019/20 football season based on the Points Per Goal (PPG) system adopted globally, the League Management Company (LMC) and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have been unable to make a definitive statement on it.
Both the NFF and LMC are believed to be waiting for the directives of the Sports Ministry and the Federal Ministry of Health in conjunction with the PTF on Covid-19 before making any pronouncements.
It is however doubtful if the clubs will accept anything contrary to what the Club Owners’ Association unanimously adopted at their last virtual meeting with the league organizers.