Para athletes have called on the Ministry of Sports to reopen the National Stadium, Lagos, and grant them access in order to train properly.
They made the plea while speaking in separate interviews with Newsbreak on Friday.
The National Stadium has been closed to the public since March due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Despite the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 giving the approval for a limited number of physical and sporting activities, the stadium’s gate still remains firmly locked.
Our correspondent noticed that the para athletes were outside the gate, with some doing exercise activities while others sat down.
Some of the para athletes lamented that they have had to face several challenges to train since the stadium was shut, adding that the inconveniences has had a strain on their training regime.
Oluwatobi Adefuroye told our correspondent that he and other athletes are constantly chased away by security operatives when they assemble in front of the stadium to do their exercises in a bit to enforce social distancing.
He said: “Well, it has not been easy for me and my colleagues. Since the COVID-19 situation began, we always gather in front of the stadium to train. But because of social distancing, the policemen who stay in front of the stadium chase everyone away, especially when the crowd becomes plenty. So, we are not always comfortable when training because anything can happen at any time.”
Another para athlete, Tochi Maduka, implored the Sports Ministry and the Federal Government to grant athletes access to the stadium under some form of supervision.
“It has been difficult for me training outside the stadium. There are some equipment inside which is meant to aide us para athletes but we cannot use them. Now that the Federal Government has announced limited use of the stadia across the country, I thought the Sports Ministry would have opened the stadium by now.
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“At least, both able-bodied and para athletes need access to the stadium. I think that by now, there should be some form of registration so that they can monitor people who go in and out for health reasons. They can also tell us to use the outside space for our exercises with some form of supervision from the stadium officials. They need to do something to help us the athletes because the stadium can’t be locked forever,” he said.