The study examined the impact of COVID 19 pandemic on the preparation of national sport festival Edo 2020, a study on Delta State. The study aimed at examining the COVID 19 related challenges faced by Delta State athletes in preparing for Edo 2021 National Sport Festival, the fitness activities Delta State athletes engaged in during COVID 19 lockdown in preparation for Edo 2020 National Sport Festival, how athletes managed the sport facilities during COVID 19 in preparation for Edo 2020, the difference in the performance of male and female athletes during Edo 2020 and difference in the performance of Delta State contingents in the Lagos 2018 and Edo 2020. The study adopted the simple random sampling techniques to select the 60 respondents that filled the research questionnaire. The data were analysed with mean statistic. The study concluded that there were some challenges faced by Delta State athletes in preparing for Edo 2020 national sport festival. Athletes engaged in different fitness activities during lockdown. Athletes were able to manage the facilities during COVID 19 lockdown because of the restriction policy. There was difference in the performance of male and female athletes in Edo 2020. There was difference between performance of Delta State Athletes in Lagos 2018 and Edo 2020. The study recommended that the government at all levels should develop a sport programme that will ensure that more sport arena and facilities is introduced and Special television programmes of physical fitness of be introduced to help athletes to do fitness exercise at home and the programme should be regular and interesting.
National Sport Festival began in 1973 with the sole aim of promoting unity amongst the ethnic groups in the country after the civil War as well as to discover hidden talents that can be harnessed and groomed for the future. Former Head of State, General Yakibu Gowon, was the brain behind the idea. The median edition of the National sport Festival was held in the National Stadium, in Surulere, Lagos and won by the Defunct Bendel State. Ever since then, the festival had been a biennial competition that has produced so many athletes in Nigeria. After 47 years, it existence. Edo State was given the hosting right to host the 2020 edition tagged “Edo 2020”. The competition was slated to commence in March, 2020. Unfortunately, the festival was postponed due to outbreak of the Corona virus in the world. According to Abulude and Abulude (2020), the pandemic has its impact on sporting activities across the world as major competitions were either canceled or postponed. The preparations and hosting of the 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) tagged ‘Edo 2020’ billed to hold in March was postponed in Nigeria due to the fear of the pandemic. This consequently affected all preparations and efforts geared towards the Olympic Games by Nigerian athletes because of the postponement of the games.
The objectives of the National Sports Festival are to build a robust talent pool of athletes for the development of sport in the country towards international sports activities. Also, grass root sports are very important in the development of sport in the country. It is on this that the National Sport Festival was established because majority of the talents were in the grass root and to establish a standard programme for athletes’ succession, enhance and elevate sports at grassroots level, curb age cheating in Sports, encourage early participation in Sports, engage young athletes in the Olympic Movement, skill development and social responsibility and enhance cultural and educational development and above all, the promotion of National unity.
According to WHO (2020), major sporting organizations have shown their solidarity in the campaign of eradicating the COVID 19 pandemic across the global due to the nature of contracting the virus through physical contact. With the efforts of sporting bodies on international, national and regional suspending some sporting activities was to reduce the spread of the virus. According to Omaka-Amari, Aleke, Obande-Ogbuinya, Ngwakwe, Nwankwo and Afoke (2020), the novel coronavirus disease (COVID 19) has become an important health threat ravaging the entire world with numerous health and economic implications. The disease occurred first in Wuham, China in late 2019 and since then, it has spread to almost all countries in the world. COVID-19 is a viral infection that causes respiratory illness. The disease is basically transmitted from person to person through contact with droplet of an infected person. Although most people can easily recover from the illness without specialized treatment, people who are older and those with existing medical conditions such as cancer, chronic respiratory infections, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are more likely to experience severe illness and health due to COVID 19, (WHO, 2020).
According to WHO (2020), in December, 2019, the WHO received reports on clusters of pneumonia cases of unknown causes in Wuham city, Hubei province of China. The Chinese authorities subsequently identified a novel strain of corovirus SARS-COV2) as the causative agents. Ajisejiri, Olumuyiwa and Joshi (2020) noted that sequel to the advice of the international Health Regulation Emergency committee, the Director-General of the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a public health emergency of international (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020. Olapegba, Anyadele, Kolawole and Oguntayo (2020) stated that COVID 19, from the family of Coronavirus (other include SARs, H5NI, HINI and MERS) is a contagious respiratory illness transmitted through the eyes, nose and mouth, via droplets from coughs, sneezes, close contact with infected person from cough, contaminated surfaces. It has an incubation period of approximately one to fourteen days. The symptoms include cough, fever and shortness of breath and it is diagnosed through a laboratory test. According to Sauer (2020), the contagion could lead to severe respiratory problems death, particularly among the elderly and persons with underlying chronic illness some infected persons however are carrier for the virus with no symptoms while other may experience only a mild illness and recover easily.
According to Lawal and Nwegbu (2020), many countries institutions planned several ways to mitigate the spread of the disease. This was the reason the Nigeria government instituted a nationwide lockdown on 29th March, 2020. It was pertinent to understand the pattern created by the lockdown. Movements were not only affected but gathering of people in one location was rightly restricted. Segal and Gerstel (2020), stated in their economic growth starting from march 2020 when total lockdown was declared which could lead to recession.
In a way to contain the spread of the virus, FIFA collaborated with the World Health Organization (WHO) and launched a ‘Pass the message to kick out coronavirus’ sensitization campaign which was championed by famous world football players in 13 languages. The message from these footballers was the clarion call on people to adhere to the five key steps to stop the spread of the disease focused on hand washing, coughing etiquette, not touching one’s face, physical distance and staying home if feeling unwell, (www.fifa,com, 2020).
WHO (2021), noted that apart from the solidarity from FIFA, other international sports for development and peace organizations came up with other initiative targeted to tame the spread of the virus. Many who participated online dialogues for COVID 19 spread of preventive measure have also sought to devise innovative solutions to larger social issues. Some of the prominent strategy was identification of quick response to problems faced by vulnerable people who normally participate in sporting programmes in low income communities but who are now unable to, given restriction to movement.
Importantly, COVID-19 pandemic had affected so many sector of the economy of the world. Sport which is an activity that gather large crowd in a stadium, became a big threat and risk towards the spread of COVID-19. Consequently, the many sporting events were postponed and these can affect the performance of athletes in the National Sport Festival. The rationale is to identify the relationship between COVID-19 pandemic effects of sports on the preparation of athletes of Delta State for Edo 2020 National Sport Festival.
Statement of the Problem
Sport is a major contributor to economic and social development. Its role is well recognized by Governments, included in the Political Declaration of the 2030 Agenda, which reflects on “the contribution sports make to the empowerment of women and young people, individuals and communities, as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives.”, (United Nations, 2020). It has also been noticed that National Sport Festival in Nigeria has been a very good way to socialized Nigerians across ethnic groups, and stout for young talents that will present Nigeria in the Olympic games in Toyko 2020. Base on the importance of National Sport Festival, the federal government and state government have continued to ensure that the competition is always held in every two years. For good performance, each of the state contingents intensified training and preparation to find them at the top of the medal table. These trainings are impromptu as preparation started early than six months before the competition that was slated to hold in March, 2020 few months before COVID 19 was declared as pandemic and the same month that Nigeria declared lockdown.
According to UN (2020), for the sake of safe guarding the health of sport men and women across the global, many international, continental and national sport organizations from marathons to football tournaments, athletics championships to basketball games, handball to ice hockey, rugby, cricket, sailing, skiing, weightlifting to wrestling and the host of other sports activities, the Olympics and Para-Olympics, for the first time in the history of the modern games, have been postponed, and will be held in 2021. Consequently, all states contingents’ preparation that was at the concluding stage for full participation was halted as the festival was postponed. With lockdown effective, movement of people and the gathering of people were banned and athletes were not on the list of the government in special duties allowed to move or engage in their enterprises. As a result of this, the study seeks to investigate how COVID-19 impact on the preparation of athlete for Edo 2020 move to April 2021and examine the effect on their performance during Edo 2020 National Festival.
The following research questions guided the study,
i. What are is the related challenges faced by Delta State athletes in preparing for Edo 2020 National Sport Festival during the COVID 19 lockdown?
ii. What fitness activities did Delta State athletes engaged in during COVID 19 lockdown in preparation for Edo 2020 National Sport Festival?
iii. How did athletes managed the sport facilities during COVID 19 in preparation for Edo 2020?
iv. What was the difference in the performance of male and female athletes during Edo 2020?
v. What was the difference in the performance of Delta State contingents in the Lagos 2018 and Edo 2020?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to examine the Impact of COVID 19 pandemic on the preparation of National Sport Festival Edo 2020. Specifically, the study is to;
- Examine the COVID 19 related challenges faced by Delta State athletes in preparing for Edo 2021 National Sport Festival.
- Examine the fitness activities did Delta State athletes engaged during COVID 19 lockdown in preparation for Edo 2020 National Sport Festival
- Examine how athletes managed the sport facilities during COVID 19 in preparation for Edo 2020
- Determine the difference in the performance of male and female athletes during Edo 2020.
- Examine the difference in the performance of Delta State contingents in the Lagos 2018 and Edo 2020.
Significance of the Study
The study would benefit the following categories of people participating in National Sport Festival. They are the athletes, sport administrators and researchers. First, athletes in Nigeria especially in Delta State would benefit from the study through the gain in knowledge the extent to which COVID 19 has affected sport competitions and with the outcome of the result, they will be better be inform on how to mitigate against similar disruptive circumstance in order to beef up their fitness level. Second, sport administrator will gain so much knowledge from this study because the result will become a guide to sport administrators on how better to effectively plan for sporting activities inspire of disruptive circumstances. Finally, academic researcher would benefit from this study because this research work is a reference material for further citation since the study scope is very novelty, many academic researchers would find this research work useful.
Scope/Delimitation of the Study
The study is delimited to National Sport Festival in Nigeria with focus on Edo 2020 preparation. The study covers Delta State contingent for the Edo 2020.
Definition of the Terms
National Sport Festival: This is the type of sporting competition which is targeted to unite the country and promote the sourcing of young talents in preparation for Olympic Games
Athletes: This is a generic name given to all sport participants in the National Sport Festival.
COVID 19: This is a virus of the SARS family that causes respiratory challenges and death.
Training Preparation: This is an activity engaged by athletes before major sport events