The gates to sporting arenas in Nigeria have been flung open for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
But so far, it is strictly for participants only as crowd attendance is still forbidden.
In a press release signed by John Joshua Akanji, a media aide to the Nigerian Sports Minister, the ministry commended the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari and the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 for reopening football and team sports behind closed doors in line with Covid-19 guidelines.
The Minister, Sunday Dare, also thanked President Buhari for also reopening the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camps.
The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu had on Thursday (September 3, 2020) announced the resumption of sports without the fans and under the close supervision of the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control.
The statement issued by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Gabriel Aduda reads: “We commend President Mohammadu Buhari, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 for reopening football and team sports and the NYSC Orientation which has been in the cooler since the outbreak of Covid-19.
“We are happy that our athletes can now return to action and do what they know how best to do and our youth can return to camp.
“The last few months have been very tough for our athletes as well as the Ministry.
“The Ministry shall ensure full compliance with all necessary protocols and tests before approval is given for resumption or sporting activity or football matches. Approval must be sought and given before any game is played, all protocols must be put in place and guidelines obeyed as directed by PTF and NCDC.”
The statement also revealed that the Ministry has set up a Covid-19 monitoring and approval team for every sport engagement and event.
While assuring that all steps for the resumption of the Nigerian domestic football league is ongoing, Aduda warned that the league would not resume until basic conditions are fulfilled.
“Indeed, the steps to return our football league to prime position are ongoing. The domestic League will not commence until the regulations and controls in the aspect of financial and licensing control are put in place.
“The NFF must put clubs on notice and enforce these regulations and controls as stipulated, otherwise the Nigerian professional and amateur leagues would not be approved for resumption”.
Earlier, the Minister had directed the NFF to communicate with the clubs the need to comply fully with financial controls and regulation as stipulated in the rule book before a date can be fixed for the resumption of the league.