The 19th National Sports Festival (NSF) got underway at the Abuja National Stadium yesterday, but its Opening Ceremony was characterised by a long delay and poor organisation.
The ceremony, which was initially billed to commence at 4 p.m. after the arrival of the event’s Unity Torch, did not start until around 6:30 p.m.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ceremony was even deserted by 8 p.m. by the athletes and team officials, who ostensibly were tired after waiting for so long.
From the accreditation of athletes, officials and journalists down to the non-availability of electricity supply to some parts of the stadium, the Opening Ceremony was a flop.
But the day had started in the same vein with the shifting of the commencement of the table tennis events at the Indoor Sports Hall to Friday from Thursday morning.
The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, arrived at the main bowl of the stadium at 5:27 p.m.
Also, festival officials then had to be scurrying round the stadium main bowl pitch to get the stage and sound equipment working.
Crowd control itself was a problem, as the stadium pitch was a mass movement of many who did not have any business on the pitch.
By the time the state contingents were on to the pitch for the march-past, it was a rowdy scene with many of those on the pitch criss-crossing the tracks and causing disruptions.
The oath-taking by athletes and officials, a normal and necessary routine, only came after majority of the athletes had left the stadium.