Lesotho’s fate of playing host of the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games remains in limbo pending outcome of the regional competition’s ministerial troika meeting later this month.
The games, initially set to be held by Lesotho last December, were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now the fate of the games will be decided this month during the AUSC region 5 Minister’s Troika this month.
The games were postponed last winter, on 31 July 2020, when it was also concluded by Troika that they meet in March 2021 in a bid to decide way forward on the future of the games.
Not only was the possibility of these games being successfully hosted in Lesotho threatened by the Covid-19 outbreak but also that Lesotho had been enduring financial challenges that delayed the construction of facilities as well as funding of preparation as far as athletes are concerned.
The meeting will be chaired by the Lesotho’s minister of Gender, Youth Sports and Recreation (MGYSR)Likeleli Tampane.
Meanwhile, the AUSC Region 5 projects and marketing Manager Siyabonga Sangweni confirmed the meeting and said that the meeting would be held virtually due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
“The plan is to have that meeting as early as possible because that is what the ministers agreed on last year so that a pronouncement on the games is made as we are still in the middle of a pandemic,” Sangweni said.
The games were already hanging in the balance after sports minister Likeleli Tampane dissolved the local organising committee (LOC), in a move that was never ratified by the AUSC.
The dissolving happened because the minister said the government does not have funds for the project as it had directed all the funds towards the fight against Covid-19.
Failure to host the games will be a kind of repetition of what happened some two decades ago when the country Lesotho failed to host them in 2001 citing lack of funds, and was subsequently slapped with a $100 000 (about M1.4million) fine.
The games are hosted every two years on a rotational basis by member states in alphabetic order, hence the country next in the line of hosting will be Malawi in 2022.
According to the ministry’s Information Officer Maqalika Matsepe, the meeting was set for beginning of the month, but said that the date will be confirmed at a later stage.
“The aim of the meeting is to decide above all whether Lesotho will still go ahead with the games. It was meant to be this week but it could be next week as the day has not been confirmed yet,” Matsepe said. 3000 athletes and 1500 officials were expected to land in Lesotho from the nine member countries namely, Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, eSwatin, Zimbbabwe and Zambia.