The Federal Government had in March placed a restriction on sporting activities, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.However, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, in a briefing in Abuja on Thursday, said the federal government had decided to ease the restriction on outdoor non-contact sports but stressed that recreational parks are not to be used for social interaction purposes.
“For recreational parks/communal sports, restrictions are removed on outdoor communal non-contact sports and the use of recreational parks for supervised physical exercise, not for social interactions. For recreational parks that are unable to enforce this, we expected them to remain closed.
“For outdoor non-contact sports, these include tennis, table tennis, squash, badminton, cycling, athletics, golf, polo, para-athletics, cricket and other non-contact outdoor communal activities. In the event that people are not certain, please contact the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports for further guidance.”
Confirming the new development, the media aide to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development,the ministry would gradually ease the ban, adding that it doesn’t guarantee the October date for the 2020 National Sports Festival.
He said, “The NCDC (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control) issued a statement to that effect but the lifted ban does not guarantee that National Sports Festival is confirmed to hold in October.
“So, any decision that will be taken will be in conjunction with the NCDC, the PTF and of course the final person who is the President of Nigeria.
“The minister had made it clear that we can begin gradually with the non-contact sports like polo, golf, squash, and track and field. We can also begin easing up of the facilities so that people can begin training. It is going to be a gradual process.”
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, is delighted by the Federal Government’s decision to lift its ban on non-contact outdoor sports in the country.“On behalf of Sports loving Nigerians, I wish to thank President (Muhammadu) Buhari through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for approving the return of non-contact sports in the country,” Dare tweeted on Friday.
“All non-contact Sports listed must obey the COVID-19 Sports Protocol.”Meanwhile, several fans reacted to the minister’s tweet, urging him to push for the return of football in the country following the return of non-contact outdoor sports.
“Thank you dear Honorable Minister for your effort on Sports, kindly push further to ensure the ban on football is lifted,” Rasheed Itebalume tweeted.“Get football back for us please sir,” Olaiya Lawal wrote on Twitter.Favor Itua wrote, “I miss football. We are waiting for that one too.”F