Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State on Tuesday in Benin expressed fear that the State may be unable to host the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival, tagged: “Edo 2020,” due to lack of funds.
Obaseki disclosed this while addressing members of the Main Organising Committee from the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development and the Local Organising Committee, who paid him a courtesy visit in Benin.
He said COVID-19 pandemic had taken a huge toll on the finances of all the states and countries across the globe, and Edo was no exception, and so the impact of the virus might thwart its efforts at hosting the games.
“For us as a state, we are ready to host, but we don’t have the funds at this point in time, this is the plain truth, Obaseki told the delegation.
“If the Federal Government, however, in its wisdom, decides to bring the funding for the games, we will only be too willing to host the country.
“We have to live with COVID-19 because it has come to stay.
“Even with 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.
“Beyond the game 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.
“We have to make a decision whether we want to go to the Tokyo games.
“And if you want to, how do you prepare the Nigeria contingent?
“Where are the trials?
“You have gone round and Edo is ready to host.
“Our athletes are in camp and we have the facilities to host.
“However, we need to balance things as it will lead us to take a new look at the present situation following the situation of COVID-19.
“We are not the wealthiest as a state, but just imagine what it has cost us as to build these various facilities across the State for the festival, preparing our athletics, preparing to receive other athletics from across the country.
“After finishing all these activities, COVID-19 hit and calls for another round of spending.”
Earlier, leader of the delegation from the FMYSD, Nebeolisa Anako, expressed delight at the facilities inspected by the committee for the games, which had been slated to commence hold February 14 to 28.
Anako said: “We are here in the state to look at the preparedness of the state and also determine how it will hold in a safe environment considering the pandemic.
“What we saw while inspecting the facilities for the game gladdens our heart.
“It shows the state government is prepared to host the games.
“We are also to look at the funding for the games.”