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| By Anayo Ezugwu | Dec. 2, 2012 @ 12:11 GMT
ALL is set for the 18th edition of the National Sports Festival, NSF otherwise known as “Eko 2012.” Lagos, the host state, is wearing a new look, with the eight venues agog with beautification meant to give visitors the best of time in the state. Athletes from the 36 states of the federation, including the federal capital territory, FCT, are already in Lagos, for the festival which lasts from November 27 to December 9. They are anxiously waiting to see the state-of-the-art facilities which the host state says would surpass what Rivers State showcased when it hosted the 17th edition of the festival last year. The state also promised to create a lasting impression in the minds of the athletes and to make Eko 2012 the best sports festival to be hosted in the country. But the question is how prepared is Lagos State for the games?
Kweku Tandoh, secretary general of the Local Organising Committee of the sports festival, said the state is ready to host the nation. He explained that the sports festival is not all about the opening and closing ceremonies. It has to do with everything about the festival, from the logistics, the transportation, the security, the medical facilities and even the entertainment that the athletes would have after their events. And above all, the image and impression of Lagos State they would take back to their states.
He said the state has focused its attention not just on competition venues but also on providing adequate and good transport system so that we don’t have situations where people miss their events or don’t get to their venues on time due to traffic jams.
But the heavy traffic jams being witnessed in Lagos every day poses a big challenge to the LOC. The situation of traffic on most major roads that link to the venues of the games showed that the LOC has a lot of work to do in controlling it. The extent to which the LOC would control the traffic will determine the success of the festival.
When Realnews visited some of the venues of the games like the Agege stadium and the national stadium the facilities were ready to host the games. The security situation at the games venues has shown that the state is prepared to ensure the safety of the participating states. The LOC said it cannot reveal everything it was doing in terms of security but assured everyone coming to Lagos for the festival that their security is guaranteed.[caption id="attachment_956" align="alignleft" width="254"] Teslim Balogun stadium[/caption]
There is also evidence that the LOC has mobilised adequate medical personnel and facilities not just for the athletes, but for everyone that would be coming for the festival. And then, of course, there are other activities which the LOC called “support logistics activities” that would give the participants a total picture of what the festival is all about.
Tandoh also explained that they have put in place a tourism package for the athletes in order to make the festival unique. “You know many of the athletes will be coming to Lagos for the first time. So what we have put in place is a guided tour of Lagos State, which would be available to the athletes at no cost. We have sea and land tours for athletes to see the landmark sites in Lagos; the creeks, Marina and other places.
What any state that is interested in taking its athletes round Lagos needs to do, is go to the desk that would be setup in the games villages and register to be taken on these tours. It’s for them to have a total picture of what Lagos is all about. Of course, we will have entertainment and fans’ centres. After their events, athletes can mingle with their counterparts from other states and let the bond of friendship and unity, which is one of the objectives of the festival, to be fulfilled,” he said.
Tandoh said they were also looking at the volunteer project to assist both athletes and officials in terms of emergencies during the games. “We are going to have about 1,000 volunteers in the project. And they are going to be dispersed across the state. These are some of the things that we are doing to ensure that the festival is exceptional. We have the accommodation and related logistics website that will take care of the hotel needs of not just participants at the festival but also people who visit Lagos during the festival, at moderate rates. It has a hotel directory and online booking. Some of the hotels have even offered shuttle buses to competition venues. We have informed all the states’ directors of sports and they have responded positively in the last two months. Our international sports seminar is also unique to the festival,” he said.
The state has also worked on the collation of results to avoid a repeat of what happened in the last edition in Rivers state. The LOC has assured states that the collation of results will be treated with full transparency and fairness. They have put in place measures that will ensure accurate collation of results from various venues of the competition through various committees. "We want to showcase the perfect collation of results as one of the strong points of the Local Organising Committee, so that all officials can look back and remember Lagos, for giving them their true scores and results at the 18th National Sports Festival”.
The LOC has invited Danny Jordan, CEO of the 2010 South Africa FIFA World Cup and Ganda Sithole, director of the Department of International Cooperation and Development, International Olympic Committee, alongside other international sports administrators, to deliver papers at a one-day seminar ahead of the game in Lagos.
Tandoh said the essence of the seminar is to raise the profile of sports in Nigeria through mutual understanding and collaboration. “The seminar will look at sports within the context of social development and economics. What we are trying to achieve with the seminar is to use the opportunity of the number of people and sports administrators that will be in Lagos during the festival to brainstorm on the very important aspect of hosting a sporting event that we believe should be brought into the limelight in Nigeria.”
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