The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Thursday in Abuja said the ministry was already looking beyond Nigeria’s participation at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Dare, while declaring open the 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), said the move was in the area of all-round preparedness for major international sporting events.
Represented by Adesola Olusade, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dare stated that commendable progress had been made by the ministry for corporate organisations and charitable individuals to take up sports sponsorship.
“Yes, the Olympics holds every four years but the preparations and level of preparedness which goes into it take more than four years.
“So, we have commenced preparations for the Tokyo Games with the inauguration of the `Ministerial Committee on Tokyo 2020’.
“However, preparations for the next Olympics after Tokyo, as well as other international sports events, should start now if we want to achieve success at the world stage,” Dare said.
The minister, who has emphasised the importance of corporate sponsorship of sports activities to complement government’s intervention, said efforts in that regard have started yielding results.
“We have secured the support of Dangote Group to renovate the main bowl of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja. We have also secured similar support for the National Stadium in Lagos,” he said.
Dare, however, said it might take longer for renovation work to commence on the Lagos stadium due to its state of disrepair.
He also commended the NOC for its collaboration and cordial relationship with his ministry and urged the Committee not to relent in efforts to grow Nigerian sports further.
Earlier in his welcome address, President of the NOC, Habu Gumel, had called for the cooperation of all stakeholders in moving sports forward in Nigeria.
“What is most important to us at the end of the day is for Nigeria’s National Anthem to be played repeatedly on the podium at the Tokyo Games.
“Let us all collaborate and work together for the success of our nation,” Gumel said.
Gumel, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), commended Dare and the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development for sourcing alternative funding for sports.
He said it should be clear to all by now that government alone cannot adequately fund sports in such a way that guarantees success.
“Unfortunately, in many African countries, government is the sole financier of sports.
“While many claim that such tendency impedes the autonomy of sports federations, my opinion is that what we need is collaboration,” Gumel said.
He therefore appealed to multinational and corporate organisations to support sports development by sponsoring federations, funding events and assisting talent development.
Gumel also commended the Sports Ministry for delivering on the building of the Secretariat of Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) in record time.
“We can all recall that Thomas Bach, the IOC President, recently commissioned the secretariat in Abuja.’’
He disclosed that the NOC, in collaboration with the IOC, has secured a training scholarship programme for 14 Nigerian athletes ahead of Tokyo 2020.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there were goodwill messages to the AGM from ANOCA and the newly-constituted Forum of NOC Patrons.
Activities at the 2019 NOC AGM also included the presentation of the President’s 2018 Report and the 2018 Audited Account.
There was also the election of the Committee’s Fourth Vice-President and appointment of auditors.
NAN reports that the AGM’s opening ceremony also witnessed the presentation of awards of recognition to the minister and permanent secretary.