The African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region-5 Games are back on track with Lesotho still the host country for the tournament now penciled for December 2021 despite impending financial hurdles.
The Minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation Likeleli Tampane said this week that despite the current financial challenges faced by government, the games will still be held this year.
The decision comes after a year of back and forth which was followed by the devolvement of a Local Organizing Committee (LOC) last year by the minister.
The games were initially set to take place last December but were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the financial constraints that came with organizing the games and preparing athletes for team Lesotho then.
However, on Monday Tampane said Lesotho is still on course to prepare for the games and host them.
“The games are to go on, at long last the Region 5 Games will happen this year in December right here in Lesotho,” Tampane said.
Newsday also learned that the government has approved a M280 million budget for the games and this was confirmed by the ministry’s Information Officer Maqalika Matsepe who explained that the money will go into upgrading already existing facilities since no construction of new facilities will be taking place.
“The money will not be used for construction of new facilities but will be put into upgrading the ones we already have in the country. It will also go into preparing the athletes for the games and other logistics,” Matsepe said.
Matsepe mentioned that the new LOC will be announced in a short period of time so as to allow sufficient time to begin all the necessary administrative duties.
“Processes to establish the new LOC will soon begin so that they can carry on with the administrative duties of preparing for the games,” he said.
The reasons behind the cancelling of the games and dissolving of the LOC last year by the minister was said to be the lack of funds by the government to bankroll the project due to focusing more on the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak.
Should Lesotho have not been able to host the games the country would be liable to a hefty fine.
The games are hosted every two years and it is on a mandatory rotational basis in an alphabetic order.