The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare yesterday declared open the 20th National Sports Festival in Benin City, the capital of Edo State.
Dare stood in for Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo who was billed to declare the ‘Nigeria Olympics’ open but was conspicuously absent.
According to the programme of events released on Monday by the Main Organising Committee, Osinbajo was expected at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium where he was scheduled to declare the Festival opened as well as commission the renovated stadium.
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari was originally scheduled to declare open the 20th National Sports Festival but his recent medical trip to London had bestowed the responsibility on his deputy, Osinbajo.
The absence of the Vice-President at the opening ceremony has set tongues wagging considering that he was in Benin City earlier in the day and had visited the Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare N’Ogidgan 11 before returning to Abuja.
In the absence of Osinbajo, the Minister of sports, Dare who declared open the biennial games emphasized that the 20th National Sports Festival will ensure strict adherence to the safety protocols of Covid-19 throughout the games.
Meanwhile, eight months pregnant Aminat Idrees has won the first gold medal for Team Lagos at the National Sports Festival.
She won the gold in the Mixed Poomsae category in Taekwondo alongside her male counterpart, Arowora Roqeeb.
In the same vein, Team Kano State has won four medals that include three silver medals in swimming and one bronze medal in Judo as at the time of press.