Bayelsa State sports commissioner, Daniel Igali is on cloud nine over Bayelsa’s ‘five star’ performance at the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival which ended mid week (April 14) in Benin. Igali who spoke exclusively to Catholic Herald Sports after watching the final of the weightlifting event at the indoor sports hall of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium said he is happy with the overall performance of Bayelsa athletes declaring that the state has never had it so good. “Go and check our records at the festival and you will agree with me that what we did here in Benin is like a miracle. We have never won up to 30 gold medals at the games but here in Benin, we have over 40 and we are still counting. I m confident we would finish at a position every Bayelsan would be proud of,” Igali said. Igali who is an Olympic gold medalist said the performance in Benin is just a tip of the iceberg, declaring that the nation should watch out for Bayelsa in the years ahead. “We are laying a solid foundation for sports in Bayelsa state. We have a governor in Duoye Diri who loves sports and he is supporting our well drawn out programs.” Igali dismissed as ‘careless talk’ those insinuating that the state brought a Kenyan runner to Benin for the games. “I don’t want to react to what to me is nothing but careless talk…how can anybody say we brought a Kenyan here….this is Nigeria’s national sports festival…we brought Nigerians here and they have done Bayelsa proud,” Igali said.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics faces fresh threat as Japanese public kick against games
A new survey has suggested Tokyo 2020 organisers are still struggling to win public support with more than 70 per cent of Japanese citizens wanting the Games to be cancelled or delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Olympics are scheduled to start in just over 100 days but COVID-19 continues to cause disruption across the world and cases remain on the rise in Japan. A poll conducted by Japanese news agency Kyodo News revealed that 39.2 per cent of respondents want the Games to be cancelled and 32.8 per cent are in favour of another delay. It was also found that 24.5 per cent of people who took part in the survey which was carried out from April 10 to 12 wanted the Olympics and Paralympics to go ahead. The results of the poll come a day after tougher COVID-19 measures were imposed in Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa to halt a potential rise in cases. Under the measures, restaurants and businesses in densely populated areas will be required to close by 8pm. The capacity of large events will be limited to 5,000 people while businesses could receive fines should they ignore the instruction to have shorter opening hours. According to Japan Today, Tokyo registered 510 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours – an increase of 204 from yesterday. There were also an additional 3,452 infections and 37 deaths reported in Japan. The recent Kyodo News poll found that 92.6 per cent of respondents felt anxious about the resurgence of cases. The survey also revealed that about 60 per cent of people were dissatisfied with Japan’s vaccination rollout. Japan began rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 65 and over from April 12, roughly 36 million people. The Japanese Government is reportedly considering priority access for athletes prior to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics are due to open on July 23 and close on August 8, with the Paralympics set to follow between August 24 and September 5.
Minister assures of support to states Directors of Sports
The Ministry of Youth and sports Development has assured that it would continue to collaborate with State Directors of Sports to ensure sports development in the country as well as to empower the Youths in line with the policy thrust of President Muhammadu Buhari. This assurance was given last week by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development Chief Sunday Dare when he met with the new executive of the Forum of Directors of Sports in Benin. Chief Dare said Government was determined to empower the Youth through sports for the economic growth of the country. While commending the State Directors of Sports for conducting a peaceful, free and fair election, Chief Dare assured that the Ministry would sustain the existing cordial relationship with the Directors to identify talents that would represent the country at international competitions. The Minister said the State Directors of Sports from the 36 states and FCT deserve commendation for their maturity and unity of purpose which culminated into a peaceful and fair election . In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Nebeolisa Anako acknowledged the State Directors of Sports/ Zonal Chairmen as a formidable team that had always added value to sports development in the country. He urged them to maintain the cordial relationship that ensured the successful hosting of the 20th National Sports festival tagged Edo 2020. Also speaking, the newly elected Chairman Mr Isaac Isaac said their visit was to officially present the new Exco to the Management team of the Ministry and to seek collaboration with the Ministry
MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja to be ready for Eagles next month
The contractor handling the Moshood Abiola stadium, Abuja, has announced that the stadium will become operational and ready to host the Super Eagles and other sporting activities next month, May. Fielding questions from newsmen during an inspection of the project at the stadium last week, the Executive Director, Avon Nigeria Ltd, Architect Adeniji Adesoji, revealed that the seed for the grass imported from Europe which will be planted this week will be lush green by the end of this month. Speaking before conducting newsmen from one location to the other, Adesoji lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the contract completion date, assuring that the stadium will become fully operational in a month’s time. “The contract was awarded last year under the programme of adopt a pitch policy, the brainchild of the Minister, Chief Sunday Dare. The contract comprises the main pitch, the nursery, the scoreboard and the control room. We took over the project on August 31 last year and ever since then we have been working according to the programme specifications. “We would have handed over by now but we had issues with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because the main pitch involves bringing into the country, hybrid seeds from Europe. It affected us. All the components of the scoreboards to be imported from Europe also affected us. We also had issues with the pitch, particularly the underground system like the sprinkler, but with the help of the ministry, we have surmounted these challenges.” Meanwhile, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has dispelled the speculation that the stadium is in a state of neglect. Speaking during the inspection of the facilities, Deputy Director, Facilities Engr. Alanamu Abolore maintained that the facilities have been hosting sporting activities with the swimming pool in good shape and in use by the Aquatic Federation of Nigeria.