By; AYO OJEDOKUN, Lagos
President of the Muaythai Federation of Nigeria, Comrade Paul Egonu has applauded the Federal Government for postponing the 20th National Sports Festival billed for Benin City, Edo State.
The cancellation of the Games was confirmed on Tuesday by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday who said the decision was in the interest of the safety of Nigerians.Egonu said the cancellation by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is in conformity with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari who approved the postponement as a precautionary move against COVID-19 spread.
The President’s decision followed the close monitoring and updates on COVID-19 in Nigeria and across the world. He explained that the postponement became necessary as a result of the shutdown of socio-economic activities in various countries across the world, due to the outbreak of Coronavirus.
The 20th National Sports Festival was due to get underway this weekend and end on 1st April in Benin.
Meanwhile, the corona virus pandemic better known as Covid-19 has affected all sporting activities across the globe
The Muaythai Federation of Nigeria has keyed into the global acceptance of postponing events that bring people together, hence the postponement of Africa Muaythai senior championship billed for Tunis Tunisia from April 5th to 10th.
The International Federation of Muaythai Association (IFMA) in a release sent to all its affiliate bodies including Nigeria reads, “We are all facing a period of unprecedented difficulty in this world due to the current global Covid-19 situation which is adversely affecting the world of sport.
“IFMA has in the past and always will put the health and safety of all family members comprising of our athletes, coaches, staff, officials, volunteers and the general public at the focus of our concerns.
“IFMA shall continue to heed the advice of the WHO, as the leading United Nations organization dealing with this situation.
“Presently we are all aware that the WHO has now declared Covid-19 as a “Pandemic” primarily due to the speed and scope of transmission of the virus as opposed to the severity of the disease.After much consultation and discussions with all relevant stakeholders of IFMA, all international events until further notice are postponed.
“It is felt that this is the correct course of action in keeping everyone safe.With regards to the Senior World Championships, we are following the directives of the host government to delay major events.
“At this moment, we are considering the options of delaying the event to either last week of October or second week of November.”
Comrade Paul Egonu appealed to the athletes to remain calm as the postponement was for safety reasons.
He noted that he understands the right of the athletes having trained so hard in closed camp ahead of the tournaments which eventually have been shut down due to Covid 19 outbreak.