Close to 14,000 athletes and officials have been registered to participate in the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF) which begins in Abuja on Thursday, the organisers said on Tuesday.
The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, gave the figure at a joint news conference in Abuja with the festival’s chief host, the Minister of the FCT, Muhammad Bello.
“We developed a website for the Festival, as well as a registration portal, through which all participants registered for the competition.
“The online registration of participants was concluded on Oct. 31, with the distribution of registration from the 36 states and FCT when the site was closed as follows:
“Athletes are 11,638, coaches are 1,242, team officials 855 and state delegates,’’ he said.
Dalung said also that Abula in the male and female categories, cricket for female and football for female would be demonstration events and would not score at the 19th NSF.
He said this was in accordance with the NSF General Rules and Regulations, as amended.
The minister said hosting the 19th edition of the festival was a huge achievement for his administration, after the competition could not hold since its last edition in 2012.
Earlier, Bello had said the FCT, beyond hosting the 19th NSF, would top the competition’s medals table and showcase Nigeria at its best.
He said the Festival would be utilised to show sports as a formidable instrument for tourism, investment promotion and economic development.
“Our current investment in infrastructure, rail transportation and public utilities are geared towards making the city attractive for this purpose.
“We are indeed committed to developing a sports brand, like other major cities of the world,” Bello said.
The minister said the FCT would feature 470 athletes and officials to participate in 27 sports at the Festival.
He assured that the FCT administration would use the 19th edition of NSF to test-run its ultimate goal of putting Abuja in the global map of sports tourism.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Festival’s 2019 edition will feature 37 sports, as against 25 in the last edition held at Lagos in 2012.