Youths and Sports Development Minister Mr Sunday Dare has urged Nigerian athletes to keep hope alive on the occasion of the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister of youth and sports development, Sunday Dare, said the ongoing 20th National Sports Festival tagged ‘Edo 2020 Games’ offers a unique opportunity for Nigeria to explore sports development beyond more than a game.

He stated this while declaring the biannual games dogged ‘Nigerian Olympic Shows’ open at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin on Tuesday.

The Minister, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, said Nigerians will see the best young talents from 36 states and FCT competing for laurels in 32 sporting events during the 12-day festival. “In pursuit of unity and development of Nigerian youth, the National sports festival #NSF2020, offers a unique opportunity to explore sports development beyond more than a game,” Dare said. “Nigerians will have the opportunity to see some of our best young talents compete in 32 sports events amongst 36 states plus the FCT,”

“You have seen the performance this evening and for the next twelve days we will see our young talents compete. We hope that from this competition and festival, we can find some stars that will eventually represent this country. I just want to say that sports is a unifier, sports promotes peace and employs millions of our youth.”

While affirming the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s to sports development, Dare reiterated: “Like the President promised, he will continue to support sports development so that our youth can be engaged productively and have a career in sports.”

“This Festival sign posts the future when athletes discovered here would be able to compete with the best in the world. I look forward to this Festival producing notable superstars like we have had in the past. It is also a unique opportunity to invest in our sports infrastructure to create the right mix.”

The host, Edo State lived up to her billing as a custodian of culture and sports during the opening ceremony of the Edo 2020 Games with the display of its cultural performance. The rich culture of other participating states came alive with dances, music and cultural displays which symbolise unity in diversity of Nigeria.

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