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Covid: Urdd Eisteddfod 2021 'at risk'

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image copyrightUrdd Gobaith Cymru
image captionUrdd Eisteddfod had already been postponed this year due to coronavirus

One of Europe's largest youth festivals is under threat next year due to coronavirus, its chief executive has said.

The Urdd Eisteddfod event was postponed this summer due to the pandemic.

Sian Lewis was giving evidence to a Senedd committee on the impact of the virus on the Welsh language.

"We may not be in a position to hold a traditional eisteddfod," she told members of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee.

She said Urdd Gobaith Cymru as a whole had already announced the pandemic would cost the youth movement £14m in lost revenue.

"All of the national sports competitions of the Urdd will have to be suspended too," she told Senedd members.

image captionMr Urdd is the movement's mascot, and the eisteddfod attracts about 90,000 visitors every year

Ms Lewis said the organisation estimated it would be pushed into a debt of £3.5m over the next two years, if current circumstances continue.

The annual eisteddfod moves from location to location every year, attracting about 90,000 visitors and competitors over the week-long festival.

It had been due to be held in Denbighshire in 2020, until lockdown forced it to be postponed for 12 months.

Ms Lewis said the Urdd had also been forced to cut half of its 320 posts, many of which run activities at centres such as Glan-llyn, near Bala in Gwynedd, and at Llangrannog in Ceredigion.

The Urdd chief executive said she did not envisage young people being able to return to those camps before September next year at the earliest.

She also warned the Senedd committee the restrictions on holding Urdd events, both cultural and sporting, would have an impact on young Welsh speakers.

"The impact of this, on losing workforce and not being able to run our services, then clearly that has had an impact on children's use of of the Welsh language in their communities and outside of school hours."

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