Game theoryThe government should closely monitor the reconstruction of the central stadium
Dashrath Rangashala, Nepal’s showpiece stadium which hosted the first ever South Asian Games in 1984, continues to crumble amid apathy. The only international-standard stadium in the country was damaged three years ago by the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake. Since then, it has continued to disintegrate. And its guardians continue to play the blame game—citing painstakingly slow bureaucracy and lack of funds from the government.
But as usual, the concerned authority’s indulgence in pointing fingers instead of finding a solution has resulted in the 13th South Asian Games, slated to be held in Nepal in March 2018, being postponed. Since we were unable to meet the March 2018 deadline, the proposed new date for the event is September 2019.
Often times, sports and national pride have complemented each other. This is only the third time that hosting rights were awarded to Nepal, and the disarray we have projected on to the participating nations has clearly set a precedent for how the international community will perceive our capacity to deliver on our
It has also demoralised talented athletes like Bikram Lama of the national football team, who told the Post that the uncertainty caused by Nepal’s delays in events like the South Asian Games may force players to desert the game altogether. This is a sorry state of affairs if not outright embarrassing. The South Asian Games’ intended purpose of leveraging sports to strengthen regional ties and forge new partnerships has been jeopardised by Nepal’s seemingly lukewarm attitude towards meeting deadlines set by the game’s governing body.
An opportunity to host sporting events provides countries a chance to gain greater international recognition and legitimacy. Therefore, successfully hosting the South Asian Games could have been a means for image promotion. By putting Nepal on the world map, hosting sports events could be our moment to depict our culture and history. Further, the games would have also opened Nepal to tourism and international business. But the concerned authorities have repeatedly paid no heed.
In the last six fiscal years, the money allocated for sports development-related initiatives has accounted for less than 1 percent of the total budget. Aside from securing finance for event-related logistics, little to no money is budgeted towards athlete training and talent procurement. Because of this, our position in the South Asian Games, the one event where we performed relatively well, is slipping away too. The mess only further highlights the state’s lack of investment in and apathy towards the sports development sector.
Clearly, sports has never been a priority for the government. In fact, the prime minister chairs the South Asian Games monitoring and managing committee. Given that, it is only expected of the government to closely monitor the reconstruction of the central stadium and other essential infrastructure, and take the initiative to expedite the process. Investment should be directed towards reconstructing and building new facilities. While doing so, the government must also ensure that there is no fund mismanagement at the bureaucratic level. Only when the government steps up its game and directly takes stock of things, can we make current and prospective athletes believe that there is a future for sports in the country.