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.
Dare said: “On this historic day of the celebration of the United Nations International Day of Sports Development and Peace which is celebrated soberly due to the COVID-19 scourge, I urge all our sportsmen and women to remain steadfast, strong and to keep hope alive. As athletes, you remain the beacon of hope to unite Nigerians to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Sports and Peace.
“We must use sports to foster peace, unity and lend support to those that are down. As sportsmen and women, you must take up the symbolic role of lifting the spirit of our fellow countrymen and women. Despite the experience the world is going through, we must not allow our spirit of unity, love, care for each other to wane. In our little corners, let us celebrate by getting active through exercises in our homes, a walk in the park and encouraging each other to stay safe. When we stay together, we win together. In the spirit of sportsmanship, we must never give up the fight against the spread of COVID-19. This fleeting, sober moment for sports, business, the social , and economic meltdown will pass and we shall emerge victoriously.”
Dare then affirmed that the role of sports in global unity is crucial.
“Sports remains the most powerful tool that unites the world during peace and war, and this experience would only strengthen our resolve to win always,” the minister said.
“Sports fosters peace and unity, it breaks all human barriers and promotes healthy living. As we seek to overcome this pandemic, let us encourage those that have caught the virus to be strong and resolute. Together we shall overcome. I encourage every Nigerian not to allow their spirit to be dampened, but use the occasion of the International Day of Sports and Peace to spread the message of peace through sports.”
He added: “Despite the sobering moment, the world will always celebrate the advent of the modern Olympics which coincides with World Sports Day. Sports can be used to drive change, unite the world and keep hope alive even in challenging times like this. We must not be discouraged or disillusioned, but sustain the fight against the spread of the virus.
“When we have conquered, we shall celebrate through the vehicle of sports. My message is that we must not give up.”
The United Nations had on August 23rd proclaimed April 6th of every year as the International Day of Sports and Peace in commemoration of the opening date of the modern Olympics which started in Athens in 1896. This year is being celebrated without the usual fanfare due to the COVID-19 scourge.
The United Nations has urged everyone to mark the occasion with increased awareness about the COVID-19 pandemic and how to stay safe.