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AUSC games postponed to next year

Leemisa Thuseho

THE African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 games have been postponed to December next year.

The decision was made on Friday by the troika of ministers in a virtual meeting. The decision was informed by the increase of the number Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.

Lesotho was supposed to host the games in December this year. However, most countries have failed to prepare for the games due to their respective lockdowns.

The meeting was made up of Sports ministers from Malawi (the next hosts), Botswana (previous hosts) and Lesotho.

The next troika meeting will be in January next year.

Lesotho’s Minister of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation Likeleli Tampane confirmed the postponement.

“The troika had a virtual meeting yesterday and many things were discussed but I can confirm the resolution to postpone the games to December 2021,” Tampane told the Sunday Express yesterday.

Although she said more details regarding the way forward would be communicated later, she revealed that Lesotho is expected to continue constructing the games’ facilities. She however, said the Covid-19 pandemic was likely to pose challenges.

“Lesotho is still expected to continue preparing and building facilities. But due to Covid-19, we are still expecting challenges considering that it would not be easy to transport equipment from other countries because of travel and trade restrictions in different countries.

“Again, we don’t have money because the larger portion of the country’s money is directed towards fighting Covid-19… that means we for us to continue the preparations, we must wait for the budget of the next year financial,” Tampane said.

Besides the Covid-19 pandemic, Lesotho had already been struggling to prepare for the games. Team Lesotho is yet to host a single camp while some of the infrastructure is yet to be constructed.

The Sports ministry intended to build a sports complex at Lepereng in Maseru and some sporting facilities at the National University of Lesotho (NUL). However, the projects are on hold after some red flags were raised about the budget and the financing company.

Before sporting activities were suspended in March this year, some federations were still in the talent identification process. Those that had teams were yet to receive funds to finance the preparations.

The chaotic preparations also saw the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) withdrawing its teams from the games to protest the delays in the disbursement of funds to prepare for the games.

Tampane said the postponement of the games was a blessing for Lesotho as it would give the team more time to prepare.

Lesotho was expecting to host 3 000 athletes and 1 500 officials from nine member-states namely; Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, eSwatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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