The Local Organising Committee of the 20th National Sports Festival holding in Benin City, Edo State has announced an abrupt end to the games just two days after the event was declared open by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The much-postponed festival only started on Sunday and was due to hold until 14 April before Wednesday’s bombshell announcement which has thrown athletes and officials into chaos.
A statement signed by the head of media and communications, Edo 2020 Ebomhiana Musa said the decision to call a halt to the games was taken after an emergency meeting of the LOC and gave the reason as due to a “lack of funds”.
“Edo2020 regrets to announce that it will end the games abruptly tomorrow, Thursday, April 8, 2021 for lack of funds,” the statement read.
“Rising from an emergency meeting [on Wednesday] evening, the LOC says it has to take this hard decision due to lack of funds having expended its reserves to kick start the games.
“Regrettably, the FG is yet to redeem its pledge to support us as the host state financially for the cost of postponements. So, we are left with no option than to end the games at noon tomorrow,” the statement concludes.
The festival was initially scheduled for early 2020 but was postponed several times due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and disputes between the LOC and the Federal Ministry of Sports over funding.
A last gasp effort was made to ensure the games held in April to serve as preparations for Nigeria’s Tokyo Olympics bound athletes but it appears the old wrangling over money has brought the competition to a premature end.