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‘Edo has not backed out in hosting Sports Festival’

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PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI.

• Sports ministry in dilemma
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki says his administration is still willing to host the 20th National Sports Festival, tagged Edo 2020, contrary to reports in the media that the state is no longer interested to staging the Games.

The Sports Festival was called off three days to its commencement date in March 2020 due to outbreak of Coronavirus. The new date of December 2020, which was later shifted to January 3, 2021, could not see the light of day. It has been slated to hold from February 14 to 28.

The Main Organising Committee (MOC) from the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development (FMYSD), and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) paid a courtesy visit to Governor Obaseki in Benin City on Tuesday, where the February 14 take off date was sealed.

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Governor Obaseki said the state was not buoyant enough to host the festival, fuelling speculations in some quarters that Edo 2020 National Sports Festival may have been dealt a final blow.

However, a member of the LOC, Ebomhina Musa told The Guardian yesterday that Edo State was still interested in hosting the festival fro February 14 to 28.

“What our governor is saying is that Edo State is still willing to host the festival, but financially the state is not buoyant enough. The state has spent a lot of money in putting facilities in place, COVID-19 procedure and other things for the sports festival. The bottom line is that, we want Federal Government’s assistance for Edo State to host the festival.”

In a statement made available to The Guardian, Edo State government said: “COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the finances of various states and countries across the globe and Edo State is not left out.

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“If the Federal Government however, in its wisdom, decides to provide funding for the Games, we will be too willing to host the country.

“Cancelling the game is not the solution to this issue. Beyond the game itself, there is the Tokyo Olympics to consider.

“We have to sit down and look at all these issues critically before reaching a final decision.”
Meanwhile, the ministry of Youths and Sports Development is said to be in great dilemma on the possibility of providing the funds Edo State needs to host the Sports Festival.

An official of the sports ministry told The Guardian yesterday that the minister, Sunday Dare, had not made any pronouncement on whether or not the presidency would raise any amount of money to assist Edo State to host the sports festival.

“Honestly, we are in dilemma now because I don’t see the possibility of the sports ministry rushing to the presidency to ask for money for the sports festival. The Honourable Minister has not said anything about it. We are waiting to see how it will play out,” the official stated.

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