*ON THE PURPORTED POSTPONEMENT OF THE 2020 NATIONAL SPORTS FESTIVAL*
By *_Engr. Chika Chukwumerije_* _OLY, MNSE_
Two major political elections were held in Ondo & Edo; the National Festival of Arts & Culture was held in Plateau; Churches & Mosques across the nation threw open their gates; NYSC camps are open; millions of children have flooded back into the classrooms to continue their education; and millions of businesses have welcomed back their employees.
Yet, the 2020 National Sports Festival is to be purportedly postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
Prior to the holding of these other events, ‘concerns’ were raised about the impact of COVID-19, but the events were ultimately allowed to hold, despite the fact that the ‘crowd size and crowd proximity’ involved are similar to those that will gather at the National Sports Festival.
One must then ponder this situation where, despite the ‘concerns’ raised, national activities and events related to Religion, Politics, Culture, Education, Business did not suffer; yet Sports which is the only entity that provides an amalgamation of all the forementioned entities unfairly suffers due to the same concerns.
Expectedly, sports enthusiasts and dependents are crying out at the selective and marginalized application of these concerns. They are also wondering why the dates were fixed in the first place without final authorization first being secured, this pointedly being the reason for the unfolding confusion and distress.
Most certainly, health should be the priority in deciding to hold or postpone the National Sports Festival – but it is only one side of the health argument that is being put up.
The other side of the health argument is the MENTAL HEALTH & SANCTITY of tens of thousands of youths and officials for whom sports is their anchor; in addition to the FINANCIAL HEALTH of legion of sporting youths from across the 37 states, who have looked to the 2020NSF to salvage some of the financial damage inflicted by the COVID-19 disruption.
This is why the European leagues are back in play because they understand that the damage wrought on people’s mental health accompanied by the financial losses incurred are hugely disproportional, especially when one considers that the spread of covid-19 can be mitigated in a controlled environment.
The depression and anxiety felt by the sports community is real, and the 2020NSF was the defibrillator needed to counteract the sporting arrhythmia currently being experienced by tens of thousands of sporting youths.
If Kenyans were allowed to travel 4760km from Kenya to Nigeria to participate and enjoy the benefits of the recently held Kaduna Marathon, it is only fair to argue that Nigerians be allowed to travel much fewer kilometers to participate and benefit from the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival.
To this effect, all efforts must be made to satisfy whatever conditions are necessary to ensure the 2020 National Sports Festival are safely held, either at these original dates proposed or within the next two months.
Leadership at all levels should properly align for a major decision like this.