LIVER­POOL WILL­ING TO STEP IN

Ready to host 2022 Com­mon­wealth Games if Dur­ban drops out

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LON­DON

Liver­pool is ready to stage the 2022 Com­mon­wealth Games if Dur­ban with­draws be­cause of fi­nan­cial pres­sures.

South Africa sports min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula said on Tues­day that the gov­ern­ment might scrap Dur­ban 2022 due to the cost of stag­ing the multi-sport event.

That prompted Joe Anderson, the mayor of north­west English city Liver­pool, to tweet: “Happy to con­firm I’ve told gov­ern­ment of our de­sire to host 2022 CWG.”

A Liver­pool City Coun­cil spokesper­son said: “Liver­pool is in­ter­ested in host­ing the Games in 2022.

“We had heard Dur­ban might be un­able to de­liver the Com­mon­wealth

Games in 2022 and have al­ready in­di­cated to the Gov­ern­ment that we are very will­ing to host them in­stead.”

Liver­pool is a city with a rep­u­ta­tion for sport that in­cludes be­ing home to two long-es­tab­lished English Pre­mier League foot­ball clubs in Liver­pool and Ever­ton as well be­ing the birth­place of John Con­teh, a for­mer Com­mon­wealth Games box­ing gold medal­list who later be­came a world lightheavy­weight cham­pion.

In 2002, the Com­mon­wealth Games was staged in the nearby city of Manch­ester, which has long vied with Liver­pool for foot­ball and cul­tural pre­em­i­nence in the north­west.

Dur­ban was named as the 2022 Games host in Septem­ber 2015 but Mbalula told a news con­fer­ence in Cape Town on Tues­day that the South African gov­ern­ment and the or­gan­is­ing Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion (CGF) had still to reach an agree­ment over costs.

“It does not look like we will find each other,” said Mbalula, who added that a fi­nal de­ci­sion was ex­pected from the fed­er­a­tion when it meets shortly.

“We have given it our best shot, but we can­not live be­yond our means,” he said.

“There is a pos­si­bil­ity that it might not come in our di­rec­tion at the end of the day.”

Both the 1995 rugby World Cup and the 2010 foot­ball World Cup in South Africa are seen as mile­stones in the coun­try’s ef­forts to pro­mote na­tional unity since the apartheid era.

The Com­mon­wealth Games in Dur­ban, on the east coast, would be the first to be held in Africa.

The Games have been ear­marked to start on July 18, 2022 — the late Nelson Man­dela’s birth­day.

Ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties, a bud­get of 6.4 bil­lion rand (RM2.2 bil­lion) has al­ready been set aside for the Games, in a coun­try bat­tling high un­em­ploy­ment and poor growth.

The event is re­stricted to coun­tries that are now mem­bers of the Com­mon­wealth, a col­lec­tion of na­tions that were mainly once part of the Bri­tish Em­pire.

It was first staged in 1930 when it was known as the Bri­tish Em­pire Games.

Re­cent edi­tions have taken place in Mel­bourne, Delhi and Glas­gow, with the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games due to be held on Aus­tralia’s Gold Coast.

Happy to con­firm I’ve told gov­ern­ment of our de­sire to host 2022 CWG.”

JOE ANDERSON

Mayor of Liver­pool

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