1 Aug 2013

Japan turns down Marshalls request to fix termite damaged gym

6:21 pm on 1 August 2013

The Japanese government has turned down a plea from the Marshall Islands government to fund a five million US dollar renovation of its termite-damaged national gymnasium.

The Japan Embassy in the Marshall Islands says Japan cannot fund the repair project at this time, adding that its government operates on a timetable which has not been followed by the Marshall Islands.

The Majuro Senator, Tony Muller told Beverley Tse the Educational Cultural Centre has been closed since a portion of the roof collapsed in June 2011 and it desperately needs money for repairs.

TONY MULLER: Reliable sources have told us that the proposal for Japan to come in and rebuild it is no longer on the table.

BEVERLEY TSE: Do you know the magnitude of the repair work needed for this gymnasium?

TM: Not only the roof but we're looking at everything else inside from the restrooms onwards so it's pretty dilapidated.

BT: And how did it get this way, was there no maintenance done on it?

TM: I'm sure we are at fault as well for lack of maintenance so we're not pointing fingers at anyone we're just trying to get if fixed.

BT: And I understand there's hope this venue would be used for the Micronesian Games which is coming up.

TM: The Micro Games will be hosted by Pohnpei but we'd like to host the one afterwards which is four years from next year, that will take a lot of commitment from not only the sports federations but particularly the government in terms of facilities.

BT: So if Japan isn't giving funding at this stage where will the Marshall Islands government get money from?

TM: That's a question that needs to be answered and we have meetings set aside to talk to certain individuals, certain titles to get some answers.

BT: What do you think needs to be done in order to see this facility repaired?

TM: Donors usually come in once they know the commitment has been done by a certain country. Now we haven't put in a bid to put in to host the next Games given our situation with facilities but again it will boil down to everyone's commitment, especially the government, start building some of these facilities so that we're able to host.

BT: And when do you normally have to submit your request to host the Games?

TM: It's usually done right before the Games, the Micro Games, the flag will be turned over to whoever wins the bid to host the next Games. The bidding process should have already taken place, we're a bit reluctant to submit a proposal given our situation on facilities.

BT: Does that mean the Marshall Islands has lost its chance of hosting the next games or do you think there's still a glimmer of hope?

TM: There still is hope, we've never hosted a Micro Games so our neighbouring countries would most likely entertain a request and a bid from our side.

Tony Muller says the closure of the national gymnasium means Marshall Islanders have had to depend on the country's smaller arenas to host sports events.