Desirous of picking Tokyo Olympics qualification standard at the National Sports Festival, top Nigerian athletes have asked the Sports Ministry not to fix the new date beyond August 2020.
The Sports Ministry and Edo 2020 organisers are scouting for a new date for the National Sports Festival after the March 20-April 2 date was scuttled by the COVID-19 worldwide sports postponements, which included the 2020 Olympics, now to run in the summer of 2021.
Athletes who are still hopeful of making world-standard performances to qualify for “Tokyo 2020” said any new date beyond August for the National Sports Festival will not allow their performances to be recognized by the World Athletics.
“The WA set the qualification deadline from December 2019 to August 2020 and so those of us who are aiming to achieve the standard at the National Sports Festival need do so by August,” said 400m runner, Patience Okon-George.
“We are appealing to the Sports Minister and the organizers to consider a date in August, otherwise whatever we do after that will be a waste of time,” she added.
Only six Nigerian athletes including Blessing Okagbare, Ese Brume, Tobi Amusan, Divine Oduduru, Raymond Ekevwo and Chukwuebuka Ebube have earned the qualification standard so far.
“The coronavirus crisis really affected athletics. All the competitions where our athletes could have picked up performance standard were cancelled.
“They had no track to train (because) all the stadia were closed. It would really be nice if they can run the festival to give the athletes something to cheer this season,” said former 400m runner and Africa record holder, Falilat Ogunkoya.
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