The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has said the ongoing 20th National Sports Festival, Edo 2020 will continue as planned, dismissing the widespread rumours that the games may be cancelled due to paucity of funds.
In a statement, the Assistant Director of Press at the ministry, Mr Ramon Balogun noted that the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, the Permanent Secretary, and directors of the ministry are all on ground in Benin City, the venue of the festival to continue with the arrangements for the games.
This was contrary to the threat by the local organizing committee who had threatened to bring the sport fiesta to an abrupt end, Wednesday, citing the failure by the federal government to redeem its pledge for funds.
It would be recalled that the Edo state Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, had complained that the state was broke, having expended its meager resources to managing the Coronavirus pandemic.
But the federal minister of youth and sports development, Sunday Dare, assured that the federal government will release funds to the host state, to host the sports fiesta tagged Edo 2020.
The main organizing committee of the event in a statement on Thursday said it was not aware of plans or threats by Edo to shut down the festival.
The statement issued by the Sports Ministry reads:“The Ministry and the Main Organizing Committee (MOC) for the festival are unaware of any plans or threat by the Edo State Government to shut down the sports festival as there has been no official meeting or communication that relayed such information.
“The Honorable Minister, Permanent Secretary and Directors are on ground in Benin City where the Festival is holding, and it is expected that the Edo State Government would formally invite the Ministry for a meeting should any urgency exist around the National Sports Festival or communicate officially with the Main Organizing Committee (MOC) for the festival. The Ministry has no such communication.
“For the records, the Edo State government due to the cost implications of postponements occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic requested financial assistance from the Federal government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
“The Ministry has since been at work to secure the financial assistance which it believes is being processed. The MYSD and EDSG are determined to deliver a successful National Sports Festival.”