20th NSF: Osinbajo to declare open National Sports Festival in Edo today

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

• As 7 athletes test positive for COVID-19

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will today, Tuesday, officially open the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF), taking place in Benin City, Edo State.

At the opening ceremony, Prof Osinbajo, SAN, will also commission some sporting facilities.

The organisers, in the programme of events released on Monday, said, the Vice President will also pay homage to the Oba of Benin before proceeding to Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium for the ceremonial opening.

The Main Organising Committee, also disclosed that the two-hour programme starts at 7:00 a.m. with the display of the rich cultural heritage of Edo State, as Nigerian artiste ‘Fire Boy,’ entertains the guests.

Governor Godwin Obaseki, who will usher in Vice President Osinbajo to the state, supported by his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu, will also speak on Edo State’s readiness for the festival, while the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare is expected to officially welcome athletes to the ceremony.

To organisers had informed that to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, entry into the venue will be strictly by invitation and accreditation, while states will be allowed to present only 20 athletes for the ceremony.

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Earlier on Monday morning, the torch of unity of the 20th National Sports Festival, which began a tour of Edo, only visited the headquarters of the state’s three Senatorial Districts, unlike how it was done previously.

Then, the torch had gone through all the Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.

The torch-bearers were led by Sixtus Omokhagbor, an aide to Philip Shaibu, the Chairman of the festival’s Local Organising Committee (LOC), who is also Edo’s Deputy Governor.

Other members of the team include Osagie Ohaimu, national record holder in the 21km walk race, and Faith Fidelis, an 800m and 1500m specialist.

The first senatorial district visited was Auchi, headquarters of Edo North.

There, the Head of Service (HoS) of the Etsako West LGA received the torch on behalf of the other six LGAs in the district.

The torch later moved on to Edo Central senatorial district where the HoS of Ekpoma, Esan West LGA received it on behalf of the district.

The last place visited was Edo South senatorial district, where the torch was received by the HoS of Oredo LGA on behalf of the district.

The same torch named “Unity Torch” is expected to be lit at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium Tuesday morning by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who will officially open the 20th NSF.

The 20th NSF, tagged “Edo 2020” and the country’s biggest sports event, began on Friday with the arrival of state contingents of athletes and officials.

It will end on April 14 with the departure of all the participants and other visitors.

7 athletes test positive for COVID-19

Meanwhile, at least, seven athletes have already tested positive for COVID-19 at the biennial games.

Confirming this on Monday, the Project Manager, Media and Communications, Sub-Committee for the festival, Musa Ebomhiana, said the affected athletes have been quarantined at the Stella Obasanjo Isolation Centre in Benin.

To this effect, he informed that the affected athletes who are from different states of the federation stand disqualified from participating in the sports festival.

However, Ebomhiana explained that there was nothing to worry about, as the number of positive cases compared with the large number of athletes and officials participating in the sports festival, was insignificant.

He further explained that out of the two states earlier disqualified, only Oyo state-contingent had been readmitted into the games following the completion of the COVID-19 screening.

Ebomhiana said, the case of Taraba is pending as athletes and officials have to undergo the mandatory COVID-19 test.

According to him, 25 states have so far arrived for the games, while he assured that all is set for the official opening of the games.