Edo has no funds to host festival – Obaseki

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Adeyinka Adedipe, Benin

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, says the state is ready to host the National Sports Festival, but expressed fears over lack of funds to host 11,500 athletes and officials at the 20th edition of the sports meet.

Obaseki disclosed this when he received members of the Main Organising Committee from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Local Organising Committee, who paid him a courtesy visit in Benin City on Tuesday.

The Governor said COVID-19 had taken its toll on the finances of various states and countries across the globe with Edo State not left out.

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He noted that the impact of the virus might have a negative effect on hosting the Games in the state.

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Obaseki said, “Since March last year, you know the financial strength of most states, sub-nationals and countries. For us as a state, we are ready to host but don’t have the funds at this point in time to host the Games; this is the plain truth.

“If the Federal Government however in its wisdom decides to bring the funding for the Games, we will be too willing to host the country. We have to live with COVID-19 because it has come to stay; even with the vaccination, the virus will still be around. Cancelling the Games is not the solution to this issue. We have to sit down and look at all these issues critically before reaching a final decision.”

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Obaseki added, “Beyond the Games itself, which is an instrument of unity and a way of engaging the youths, there is the Tokyo Olympics to prepare for. But how do we prepare for the Olympics without Edo 2020? Can we afford to expose our young people to the dangers of COVID-19 or would there be other Olympics in the future? We have to balance these things.

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“We have to make a decision whether we want to go to the Tokyo games. If we want to, how do we prepare Nigeria’s contingent, where are the trials?”

Earlier, the leader of the delegation from the sports ministry, Nebeolisa Anako, expressed delight with the facilities inspected by the committee for the festival scheduled to hold from February 14 to 28.

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“We are here to look at the preparedness of the state and determine how it would be hosted in a safe manner, considering the pandemic. What we saw while inspecting the facilities for the festival gladdens my heart. It shows that the state government is prepared to host the event. We are also looking at the funding for the Games,” he said.

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