KATHMANDU, Aug 15: Minister for Youth and Sports Rajendra Kumar KC has said that the government was committed to host the South Asian Games (SAG) even if it required using sport facilities of Nepal’s departmental clubs —Tribhuvan Army, Nepal Police, and Armed Police Force (APF).
Responding to the concerns of lawmakers over the preparations of SAG, in a meeting of youth and sports sub-committee under the Women, Children and Social Welfare Committee of the parliament on Tuesday, KC said that the ministry was preparing to hold high-level talks with officials of the concerned departments about availability of their infrastructure for the South Asian sports event.
“Hosting SAG is a matter of our country’s prestige, so we won’t lose this opportunity just due to lack of infrastructure,” Minister KC said, adding: “If there is shortage of infrastructure, we can even use the facilities of the departmental teams.”
Concerns over the preparations of SAG that is scheduled for March 2019 have been raised as the authorities have failed to expedite renovation work of the sports facilities that were damaged by the earthquakes in 2015.
Country’s major international sports venue Dasharath Stadium that was damaged by the earthquakes is yet to be renovated, while no other new infrastructure has been built for SAG.
However, Minister KC told lawmakers that the ministry is likely to seek help from Nepal Army to renovate Dasharath Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies of SAG are supposed to be hosted.
The earthquake-damaged roof of VIP parapet of Dashrath Stadium needs to be demolished while some parts of the general parapet need to be re-built.
“We have very little time left for the renovation works, and we must complete these on a fast-track. Therefore, we need the help from our national army,” KC said.
Meanwhile, secretary of the Sports Ministry Mahesh Prasad Dahal said that there was also the possibility of the Chinese government helping in the renovation of Dasharath Stadium.
“We are yet to receive a formal offer but we are told that the Chinese government is interested in helping us renovate Dasharath Stadium on a fast-track,” Dahal said.
Coordinator of the parliament’s youth and sports sub-committee Mohan Kumar Rai suggested that the ministry holds a meeting of the main organizing committee of SAG to formulate proper action plan. SAG main organizing committee was formed under coordination of the prime minister during the tenure of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Lawmaker Rai also said that there was a need of forming a larger committee including representatives from all the responsible stakeholders in order to make the SAG preparations more effective.
“First, a meeting of the main organizing committee should be called and a new committee should be formed side by side to increase the momentum of the preparations,” Rai said.
Olympic committee dispute
The sub-committee coordinator Rai, who is also a former treasurer of National Sports Council (NSC) and a karate player, warned that the Olympic committee dispute could result in Nepal losing the SAG hosting rights.
At the moment, two separate National Olympic Committees (NOCs) exist, led by Jeevan Ram Shrestha and Rukma Shumsher Rana. Shrestha-led NOC has international recognition, while Rana-led faction has backing from the Nepali government.
“Without sorting out the Olympic committee dispute, the preparations for SAG can’t be conducted in full pace. This can eventually result in Nepal losing the hosting rights,” lawmaker Rai said.
He also said that both the factions needed to be serious for solving the issue, and suggested Minister KC to take a strong action in this regard. “Since we have responsibility of hosting the biggest sporting event of the South Asian region, both the factions should be serious to sort out the dispute,” Rai added.
Meanwhile, Minister KC expressed his hope of resolving the issue very soon.
“The dispute should be resolved very soon by creating a win-win situation for both the factions. I have received positive signals from both sides, so hopefully we can sort it out in the coming days,” KC said.