Non Contact Sports Championship Amid COVID-19: How Lagos Did It

Posted on September 12, 2020

There is no doubt that this is a trying time for people across the world since the outbreak of novel Coronavirus pandemic which forced ,most nations worldwide to go into lockdown in order to curtail the spread of the dreaded disease, Nigeria inclusive since late March, 2020

In Nigeria, however, all facets of the society were shutdown. Sporting activities were immediately suspended by the government and a hurried cancellation of National Sports Festival, which was scheduled to begin in Edo State, was announced. And since that March, nothing happened in the Nigerian sporting arena until the Presidential Panel on COVID-19 announced partial lifting of ban on sports in the country few weeks ago.

Trust the Centre of Excellence, which has been regarded as the hub of sports in the most populous black nation of the world, Lagos took the bull by the horns to do what other states are not able to do.

Early this week, Lagos State Government through Lagos State Sports Commission announced that it would hold a two-day non contact sports competition tagged ‘Sports Is Back. The competition, which involved no fewer than 160 athletes across nine sports, was held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere from 9-10 September, 2020. The sports included Ayo, Chess, Dart, Monopoly and Scrabble (Board Games) annd Abula, Badminton, Squash and Table Tennis (Racket Sports).

The hallmark of the event was that it would comply strictly with all the COVID-19 protocols.

The Executive Chairman of the Sports Commission, Sola Aiyepeku said that the whole idea for this Invitational Open Competition was to systematically bring sports back to Lagos, adding that sports will be gradually brought back to Lagos as it used to be before the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world whenever there is clearance for it to happen.

“We are happy that gradually we are coming back,” he said before the tournament.” We give thanks to the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari for allowing sporting activities to be gradually returning in Nigeria. Also we are graciously thankful to our sports loving Governor in Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo -Olu for approving that Non Contact Sports should return in Lagos in compliance with all the protocols set out for COVID -19 for Sports “.

”We need to continue to prove to the world that Lagos is among the leaders in sports development and organising sporting events.”

To the Director General, Oluwatoyin Gafaar, all participants and officials must be of good conduct throughout the two day competition, while they should exhibit the spirit of good sportsmanship.

Giving an insight on how the management of the sports commission was able to do the magic and at last brought sports back to the Centre of Excellence, Director Sports Medicine, Dr. Kayode Micheal revealed that all participants – the athletes, officials and spectators – were mandated to follow all the COVID -19 protocols, which have been spelt out in the Information tags posted on the walls of the Games Venue and the Brochure distributed to the athletes.

“Athletes were told to be of good conduct during the competition and adhere strictly to the rules by wearing face masks, washing hands before and after each game and the use of hand sanitizer.

“It was mandatory for athletes playing board games – Ayo, Chess, Monopoly and Scrabble to wear face masks, while athletes in the racket games such as Badminton, Squash, Table Tennis were told to use hand sanitizer and wash their hands at intervals,” the medical officials of a good number of years experience in sports medicine said.

P.M. EXPRESS was on ground to monitor proceedings during the championship and it can report that the organisation put in place by the Commission was superb. The human and vehicular movements in and out of the stadium was so organised in such a way that the route of coming in was different from the route of going out, so was the case at different game venues within the stadium complex.

The well-trained stewards and security personnel were positioned strategically to monitor compliance to COVID-19 protocols, spacing rules at venues were strictly followed.

“I think Lagos has shown all other states how best to bring sports back during this pandemic with what I have seen in this two days event,” said Okonkwo James, one of the visiting spectators, who told P.M. EXPRESS that he resides around Masha area of Surulere.

“The competition has been so organised that there won’t be fear of contacting the disease because the rules of social distancing was maintained. You cannot come into the stadium without your temperature tested and wearing of face masks,” James said enthusiastically.

“This is a good test run for the organisers of the Sports Festival in Benin to see and take a lot away from Lagos. COVID-19 is a sad part of human history that we have to live with for a very long time to come, and we cannot then shutdown our lives because of this. I like the initiative and I must commend Governor Sanwo-Olu for giving approval for this and also commend the management of the sports commission for coming up with this idea. Sport is surely back in Lagos,” said another spectator, Tijani Owoeye, a table tennis pundit.

Meanwhile, results of the competition made available to P.M. EXPRESS showed that David Fayele won the men’s singles of table tennis event, with Odusanya Bosede winning the female event. Anuoluwapo Opeyori and Godwin Olofua won badminton men’s doubles, while Funke and Naomi won the female game. Pius Famakin and Borokini Kehinde won the men and women Dart events respectively.

John Michael and Utukpe Favour were winners in the squash events, while Oladeinde Jide and Bisiriyu Azeezat won men and women event in Abula. Lapite Rotimi and Oke Biodun were winners in Chess. In Scrabble, Chiamaka Gabriel won in the female game

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