Sports like every other human endeavour has been hit by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Precisely in the month of April, 2020 the sporting world witnessed the cancellation and postponement of major sporting events across the globe, with the Olympics games in Tokyo being the worst hit. From the football loving nation of Brazil to the ever enterprising National Basketball Association in America, One after the other sporting activities were brought to a halt due to the rampaging manner in which the virus was spreading. The prestigious Wimbledon Open was for the first time cancelled since World war II, a development which many in the business described as a huge blow to the sporting world.
It was no doubt a tough decision for organizers of these sporting events to shutdown their activities because of the economic loss it would have on them. However, the health implications posed by the virus not only to the athletes but their families as well leaves them with no choice but to take certain stringent measures to safeguard their lives during the pandemic.
There is no gain saying that sport is an employer of labour in most countries of the world, in fact, in countries like Spain, Brazil, Italy and south Africa to mention but a few, sport accounts for a large percentage of employment and livilyhood of the people and that is why countries that depend largely on earnings from sport would do anything to ensure that the sector is protected at this time. Recently, in Europe, to cushion the effect of the pandemic on footbaH clubs, the European Football Association (UEFA) made available nearly 70 million euros ($75million) of compensation payments to clubs ahead of schedule to deal with the impact of covid 19 related stoppage.
In less known sport like formula One which has suffered greatly among the community of sport, the governing body the FIFA has also set aside some sort of relief to teams to help them stay afloat while the deadly virus continues to spread unabated.
The story is not different in .. frica where medical facilities are in short supply or non- existent to fight the pandemic. In a continent where the sport sector is not so much of a revenue earner the impact on sport has not been colossal when compared to other parts of the world. In Nigeria for instance, the Presidential Taskforce on Covid19 just to show their resentment towards sporting activities played down the important of sport during one of its daily briefing. To further show its lack of interest in the resumption of sporting activities in the country, Chairman of the taskforce and Secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha took a subtle jibe at the Nigerian Professional football league by suggesting that unlike several European leagues which have returned or have announced definite resumption dates, the Nigeria Professional Football League has no business case for resuming.
The national sport festival which is arguably the biggest sporting showpiece in the land has also suffered similar fate as no date has been fixed for its commencement.
But for the intervention of FIFA, the global football governing body that came to the rescue of teams on the continent, perhaps many football clubs would have gone into administration or liquidated.
As a forthright thinking organization, FIFA made available palliatives to its 211 member associations as a way of reducing the financial burden they might suffer when normal football activities resumes. The Nigerian football federation for example, received from FIFA and CAF about 800,000 dollars to support them in the running of football in the country. It is expected that these kind gesture would be judiciously utilized by the beneficiaries for the overall good of the game.
The question on the lips of many is what will become of sport when normal activities resume and fans allowed to return to watch their favorite athletes take part in their respective sports. Will it still be appealing to the fans? Will investors have faith in putting their money in a sector greatly affected by the deadly pandemic? Only time will tell of what would become of our darling sport when normalcy is restored.
Jamaica writes from Port Harcourt.
RSG Restates Commitment To Youth Dev Via Sports
The Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on School Sports, Chief Aribitonye Okiri, has said that the state government-led by Chief Nyesom Wike, is committed to develop youths in the State through sports.
He stated that it is not in doubt that the State has hidden talents at the grassroots that are yet to be discovered.
Chief Okiri, said this at the finals of the National School Sports Competition held at Adokiye Amiesimaka Sports Complex in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday.
According to him, Governor Wike is poised to reach out to young ones in all the local government areas, in the state and engage them with sporting activities in a bid to discover hidden talents.
“As I speak, the governor has reiterated his desire to reach out to the children in all parts of the state and unearth their talents through engagement in sports, believing that all Rivers children are talented” Chief Okiri said.
Also speaking, the second Vice President of Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF), Pastor Emmanuel Ebong, thanked Governor Wike, for proving a worthy partner of NSSF and appeal to other corporate organisations to emulate Nigeria Breweries Ltd in partnering NSSF in sports development.
At the end of the final competition, Community Secondary School, Okochiri in Okrika Local Government Area, dominated the medal table.
24 States Set For Lagos Athletics Championship
The Lagos State Athletics Association has confirmed the entry of 24 states and some clubs for its lucrative Athletics Meet fixed for Thursday, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Yussuf Alli who is the Meet Director for the Lagos Open Athletics Championship made the disclosure at the weekend even as he hinted a few other states may still join the already confirmed 24 states and clubs.
He said: “Yes, we are very much on track for the Lagos Open Athletics Championship which will be coming up this Thursday.
“Right now, we already have 24 states and some top racing clubs that have confirmed their participation, a few more may join before we close the window.”
The Lagos Open Athletics Championship is a one-day meet simultaneously serving as another qualifying window for the Tokyo Olympics as well as a preparatory event for athletes that have already qualified for the sporting showpiece.
In the past days, Lagos has been a beehive of activities with the National trials at the Yaba College of Technology Sporting complex and now the train is moving to the heart of the city in Surulere as the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics continues to gather momentum.
The list of events to be competed for at the Lagos Open Athletics Championship includes the 5,000 meters, 400 meters hurdles, 100 meters, 800 meters, 400 meters, and 100 meters.
There would also be top-quality action across the relay events including; the 4×100 meters open, 4×100 meters open and 4×400 meters mixed relay.
Long jump, High jump, Triple jump, Shot put as well as 4×100 secondary schools relay and 4×100 secondary schools relay have all been penciled down for the maiden Lagos Open Athletics Championship.
Already, the top three finishers across all the events have been assured mouthwatering prizes by the organisers.
Okagbare Sets New Record At Olympic Trials
Blessing Okagbare will be heading to Tokyo Olympics in the best form of her life after running the second fastest time in the world this season.
The 32-year-old ran 10.63 seconds to win the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Olympic Trials at the Sports Complex of Yaba College of Technology in Lagos on Thursday.
The 10.63 seconds time saw her tie with Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’ best time in 2021 ahead of the delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Okagbare ran 10.99 seconds in the semifinal of the event to set a new championship record , and before clocking 10.63 seconds in the final to set a new record. The scorching 10.63 time is also a new African record. Only Florence Griffith Joyner who holds the world record at 10.49 seconds has run faster. The Nigerian has now emerged one of the favourites for the 100m gold at the Tokyo Olympics alongside Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who first ran 10.63 seconds this season.
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