The Federal Government has restated its determination to use the National Identification Number rather than facial screening of athletes at the ongoing National Youth Games with a view to ensuring speedy elimination of age cheat in the Games.
The Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Enoh, stated this on Sunday in Asaba, the Delta State capital, during an interactive session with journalists.
Senator Enoh said his directive to the officials on the mandatory presentation of National Identity Number during the screening of athletes was irreversible as government was determined to get it right from the grassroots.
While clarifying the issue of facial screening, which has generated controversy at the event, Enoh insisted that NIN must be used to resolve it, adding that athletes must insist on it.
“The issue of age cheats in sports is an area in which the ministry requires the support and collaboration of all stakeholders, including the media,” Enoh said.
“On our part, one of the innovations at this year’s Games is the introduction of the National Identity Number as part of the verification processes for athletes.
“Working with other stakeholders, we shall keep improving the process as we move along until we reduce to the barest minimum, the issue of age cheats in sports.
“We have to get this right as a nation if we hope to achieve sports excellence. I have directed that NIN presentation is a compulsory requirement for screening and the directive has not been reversed,” the minister added.
The facial screening exercise, which held on Friday, has been widely criticised by both officials and athletes, following the exclusion of several athletes based on their looks and physical appearances.
An official at the Games, Martins Asemota, said, “I was there Friday, the screening exercise was not okay because the agreement and the law said we should use the National Identification Number to screen all the athletes.
“But we discovered that NIN was not used, instead they were screening people facially. This is not right because there are some children who are 12 but with older facial looks.”