The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, on has turned the heat on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) saying football in the country is going backward.

Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, says non-contact sports athletes will soon resume training in Port Harcourt, Rivers, ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Mr John Joshua-Akanji, the minister’s Special Adviser (Media) disclosed this to newsmen on Saturday in Abuja.

He said the proactive move was coming on the heels of the announcement by the Federal Government that, non-contact sports could resume across the country with strict compliance to COVID-19 protocols.

Newsmen reports that the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 had on Thursday, announced the lifting of restrictions on outdoor communal non-contact sports.

Joshua-Akanji said plans had been concluded for about 20 athletes (track and field) to resume training at the Port Harcourt High Performance Centre (HPC).

“The minister has directed that in the next few weeks, about 20 athletes will resume training at the HPC in Port Harcourt.

“This is to kick-start Nigeria’s resumption of sports and also a way of resuming skeletal training for the Tokyo Olympic Games because we don’t want the athletes to get rusty.

“A lot of things are being put in place; it’s a gradual process; we don’t want to rush everybody at once and we want to be careful and thread with caution,’’ he said.


Newsmen report that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, originally scheduled to hold from July 24 to Aug. 9 was postponed to the summer of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister’s aide expressed optimism that Nigeria would do well at the Olympics and all other international competitions, with the measures being put in place.

On the use of public sporting facilities and stadia for athletes training, he said the facilities would soon be opened after all health protocols might have been put in place.

He, however, warned the public to be more disciplined, cautious and follow all health precautions like physical distancing, hand washing and sanitising while using the facilities.

“The minister has repeatedly said we will not endanger the lives of anybody because of sports.

“So, we are taking a lot of precautions and people too, need to adhere to all health protocols.’’

Joshua-Akanji listed the non-contact sports to include lawn tennis, table tennis, squash, badminton, cycling, athletics, golf, polo, para-athletics and cricket among others.

The media aide assured that there would be a monitoring mechanism to ensure that both private and public sporting facilities complied with all safety and health protocols.

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