Friday, September 24

Confusion Grips Sports Sector as COVID-19 Restrictions Return

The Nigerian sports sector has been thrown into confusion following the Federal Government’s announcement of new COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, The PUNCH reports.

The FG re-introduced a nationwide 12am to 4am curfew as part of efforts to curtail further spread of COVID-19, while mass gatherings in public spaces have been restricted to 50 people at any given time.

A member of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Dr Mukhtar Mohammed, added that “indoor recreational facilities and gyms remained closed until June 11, when the situation will be reviewed while non-contact outdoor sports such as golf, polo and tennis among others are not affected.”

Last year, sporting activities were grounded to a halt globally during the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19, with sports in the country only returning just before the end of 2020.

Mohammed’s statement, which didn’t state if contact sports would be affected or not, left athletes and officials alike in disarray, and unsure of their fate this time around.

When our correspondent contacted the sports ministry’s Acting Director, Elite Athletes Department, Dr Simeon Ebhodaghe, for clarification on whether contact sports was affected, he replied, “I wouldn’t know because I haven’t even seen the statement but maybe when I see it we can ask for further clarifications.”

Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the Nigeria Volleyball Federation, Samuel Ocheho, said the NVF had not received a directive to shutdown activities.

“Nobody has told us anything and we’ve not gotten any communication, probably we will wait for the sports minister for a directive,” Ocheho said. “The (Mohammed) statement is very open to different interpretation, I could interpret it as all sports because they said indoor, recreational sports.

“Everything is still open, my players are still in camp and will remain in camp unless otherwise instructed because our competition begins June 6; by June 1, we should be travelling.

“It is still vague a bit in terms of sporting activities and we will wait to get further directives.”

Handball player, Yaya Owolabi, added, “I saw the report but I don’t know if contact sports were included. It’s sad news for athletes of contact sports who have tournaments to attend because they will be restricted from their activities. We went to the National Sports Festival and some measures were put in place. I believe same method should be applied, instead of the restriction.”

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