Peace has finally returned to the family of the nation’s ex internationals as the two rival unions led by Tijani Babangida and Harrison Jalla have resolved to collapse into one body. The peace accord between the Tijani Babangida led National Association of Nigerian Footballers (NANPF) and the Harrison Jalla led Association of Professional Footballers of Nigeria (APFON) was signed in Lagos last week with both parties pledging to work together under a new body known as Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN). Babangida (MON) emerged as the President of the new body after emerging as a consensus candidate in an election supervised by elders of the group.
The formal inauguration of the new executive board of PFAN under the leadership of President Tijani Babangida would be held on the 21st of November in Lagos. The efforts of Hon. Tajudeen Ajide, the Executive Chairman of Surulere local government, Lagos state, who funded the meetings where peace was brokered was lauded by both Harrison Jalla, the President of the defunct NANPF and Austin Popo the former secretary of APFON. Other Elders of the player’s union that played major roles in the peace pact were Dr. Felix Owolabi, Coach Khadiri Ikhana, (MON), Coach Joe Erico, Emmanuel Okala (MON) and Chief Segun Odegbami (MON). Other ex-internationals who were present at the signing of the MOU and were pillars behind the merger include Hon. Tajudeen Disu, Mr. Princewill, Jonbo Awala and lkechukwu Enwenzor.
IOC steps up preparations for Tokyo 2020 Olympics
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach will make his first visit to Tokyo since the coronavirus pandemic hit when he leads a small delegation of officials to inspect preparations for the postponed 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games this week. Bach and other IOC officials are set to hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga during the four-day visit, scheduled for Sunday (November 15) to Wednesday (November 18). They will travel to the Japanese capital by private jet and will self-isolate before and after the trip to minimise the risk posed by COVID-19, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said following a remote meeting of the Executive Board over the weekend. Bach, has not been able to visit the Japanese capital since the coronavirus pandemic brought international travel to a halt, but World Athletics President Sebastian Coe went to Tokyo in October. In his first engagement outside Europe amid the COVID-19 crisis, Bach will visit the National Stadium and Tokyo 2020 Athletes’ Village, and hopes to speak to Japanese athletes. He said cancellation of the Games, scheduled to open on July 23 and conclude on August 8, would not be discussed with Japanese officials during the visit. “The message I want to deliver in Tokyo and to Japan and to the Japanese people is that we are fully committed to the safe organisation of the Games,” Bach said. Tokyo 2020 organisers and the IOC have this week been boosted by the news that a vaccine being developed by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and BioNTech has been found to be 90 per cent effective in preventing people from getting the virus after global trials.
Wrestling: 2020 World Championships Called Off Over Covid-19 Restrictions
Team Nigeria will no longer participate at the 2020 edition of the World Championships earlier scheduled to take place in Belgrade, Serbia from 12 – 20 December, following cancellation of the tournament by the global governing body – the United World Wrestling (UWW). The Nigerian contingent made up of Commonwealth champions Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg), Blessing Oborududu (68kg) and Aminat Adeniyi (62kg), under the tutelage of head coach Purity Akuh, had begun intense preparations for the World Championships before the latest development. The UWW said in a statement that the ‘criteria defined’ for the tournament to hold had not been achieved, adding that “with many nations reinstating travel restrictions in response to COVID-19, the participation hurdles were not met”. A substitute event, the ‘Individual World Cup’, is expected to take place in Belgrade instead, with confirmation of dates for the new competition to be announced in the coming days, UWW informed. However, Team Nigeria won’t participate at the ‘Individual World Cup’. Following the cancellation of the World championships, the trio (Adekuoroye, Oborududu and Adeniyi), as well as other wrestlers in the country, will now shift their attention to the proposed Edo 2020 National Sports Festival in Benin City next month, where they will get their first competition in 10 months. Their last event was in Algiers at the African Championships, where Nigeria dominated Women’s Wrestling, claiming 6 gold and 4 silver medals to emerge the Best Female Team of the Tournament for a record nine times. In a related development, President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation Hon. Daniel Igali will have to wait till next year to achieve his dream of becoming a member of the UWW Bureau, following the postponement of the Ordinary Congress and elections to 2021. No date has been fixed yet for the elections next year.