US President Joe Biden has said he is “disappointed” that his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping plans to skip the upcoming G20 summit in India. Chinese Premier Li Qiang is expected to represent Beijing at the summit in Delhi this week, Reuters reported. “I am disappointed… but I am going to get to see him,” Mr Biden told reporters on Sunday, but did not say when that meeting may take place. The two leaders last met at the summit in Indonesia last year. Mr Xi had earlier said he would travel to the Indian capital for the meeting – but China’s foreign ministry would not confirm his attendance when asked to do so at a regular press briefing on Thursday. News reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with preparations for the annual meeting, say Mr Xi does not plan to attend this year’s summit. This comes amid worsening relations between China and India. Among other things, the two countries are facing off against each other along their disputed border in the Himalayan region. Just last week, India protested after Beijing released a map that claims the state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin plateau as Chinese territory. Mr Xi and Mr Biden may still have an opportunity to speak in November, at a meeting among leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in San Francisco. The withdrawal comes as US-China ties have continued to deteriorate in the past year. About two months after the two leaders met in the Indonesian island of Bali last November, an alleged Chinese spy balloon in the US skies punctured hopes for a re-set in bilateral relations. The two countries disagree over a range of issues, including human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea, and Beijing’s growing domination of a host of industries. In an attempt to improve ties, a series of top US officials have travelled to China in recent months. These include Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry. Meanwhile, Mr Xi continues to portray Beijing as a leader of the developing world and rallying support for an alternative to the Washington-led world order. In a visit to South Africa last month to meet with leaders of the Brics nations, he criticised the West’s “hegemony” and urged developing nations to “[shake] off the yoke of colonialism” in his speeches. The Brics originally refers to five-nation club of developing countries, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Six new countries – Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – are set to join in January, in what’s widely seen as a diplomatic win for Beijing.

Sports Development Minister, John Owan-Enoh, has said that the Federal Government might pull down the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, to rebuild and bring it to a functional state. Own-Enoh, who had earlier said he would go ahead with the planned concession of the facility, noted that the government would only take the path that would breathe life into the nearly moribund edifice. The National Stadium, which was built in 1972 ahead of the All Africa Games in 1973, has not functioned effectively for over 15 years due to poor maintenance of the facilities.

The immediate past Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, through his adopt-a-facility programme, was able to secure a private sector-government partnership that saw Chief Adebutu Kessington fixing the tartan tracks, the football pitch, and the scoreboard.

Speaking at a meeting with stakeholders in Lagos on Friday, Owan-Enoh said he had been forced to give a second thought to the planned concessioning given the state of the facility, adding, however, that government would take the best possible option. He said: “Of course, I said on Thursday that I would support the concession of the National Stadium in Lagos, but after discussions, thereafter, I also think about the possibility of bringing down the stadium because the creative industry has benefitted from such arrangements with the National Arts Theatre in Lagos.

“So, we are going to have further discussions about the issue of the concession. “The Abuja Stadium is also going bad and if we are not careful, it could get to the state the Lagos facility is in currently.” He promised to operate an open-door policy and carry every federation along to ensure the overall development of all sports, adding that both the male and female athletes, as well the physically challenged would be given equal attention.

The minister said: “I am taking on a sports sector that is in its worst shape. The sports sector offers so much, but is it going to remain a potential or do we have people willing to change it to a sector that works? “I have discovered that Nigerian sports has a funding problem, trust issues and facility problem and they are all interwoven. If we solve the trust problem, we can unleash the other two. Sports problems are enormous, but not insurmountable.

“I have succeeded in all the things I have done so far, and I want to make a success of this new challenge.”