The #EndSARS protest across the country may have made the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports and host, Edo State government to postpone the much-anticipated National Sports Festival.
The event dubbed, ‘national Olympics’, which is in its 20th edition, was initially scheduled to hold last March in Benin but the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic forced the event to be postponed indefinitely.
The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 early this month, paved the way for the Council of Sports made up of directors in the ministry, presidents, coaches and technical directors of all the participating national sports federations to meet yesterday and today in Lagos to propose a new date for the hosting.
However, the #EndSARS protests nationwide have forced the Council of Sports to call for an indefinite postponement again.
In a telephone interview with THISDAY last night, a top official in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports confirmed that the event will not hold again this year but the official confirmation will be made before the end of the month.
“There was supposed to be a physical meeting on Wednesday and Thursday this week and all seem set but the current development in the country has knocked off whatever plans we wanted to put in place in respect of the festival.
“It is most unfortunate with the turnout of events but the Edo event is not jinxed and will hold at the most appropriate time and that could be early next year when all stakeholders would have put behind then the trauma, we all went through in this year,” the official explained.
“The ongoing protest no doubt is an eye opener and the essence of the event itself was to unite youths under a friendly atmosphere but there are more to it now that we can expect.
“The country had gone through this in the past and hopefully this one will go too and by the first quarter of next year, things would have come better and athletes will compete for their respective states without fears,” another top official pointed out.
Apart from Super Eagles AFCON 2022 qualifying match with Sierra Leone scheduled to hold at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, the NSF would have been the first major sporting event to hold at the recently refurbished facility.