Bids for Com­mon­wealth Games ‘too close to call’

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Neil Elkes Lo­cal Govern­ment Cor­re­spon­dent

IT is “too close to call” be­tween Eng­land, Aus­tralia, Canada and Malaysia over who will host the Com­mon­wealth Games, a se­nior Bri­tish sports chief has said.

But Com­mon­wealth Games Eng­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Blan­chard has praised both English con­tenders Birm­ing­ham and Liver­pool for putting to­gether im­pres­sive bids within a very short time scale.

Pro­posed venues for a Birm­ing­ham’s Games in­clude an up­graded Alexan­der Sta­dium, the NEC’s four are­nas, the Uni­ver­sity of Birm­ing­ham hockey and squash cen­tres and a new swim­ming pool in Sandwell.

Mr Blan­chard said both cities were de­vel­op­ing two high qual­ity bids leav­ing Eng­land in a strong po­si­tion to host the 2022 Games.

He said: “The hon­est an­swer to who’s the favourite is that you can­not call it.

“We are in a very strong po­si­tion in that we’ve got two there who have got an­other month or so to de­velop their bid and ad­dress some of the is­sues that have been raised. But they’re not fun­da­men­tal is­sues.”

He de­scribed both cities as “very, very good bids”.

“If you think about how much time they have had, par­tic­u­larly in com­par­i­son with a nor­mal bid process, they have done a stag­ger­ing amount of work to get to where they are.”

He said although many rate Eng­land – whether Liver­pool or Birm­ing­ham is cho­sen – as favourite, there is no ar­ro­gance.

“We know we are in a tough in­ter­na­tional bat­tle,” he added.

Both Birm­ing­ham and Liver­pool have now been vis­ited by the Gov- ern­ment’s Com­mon­wealth Games De­liv­ery Unit panel, who have re­viewed the bids in de­tail and given feed­back to the ri­val cities.

Liver­pool has been asked to pro­vide “bul­let­proof as­sur­ances” that it can in­stall a tem­po­rary ath­let­ics track at Ever­ton FC’s new sta­dium within a tight timescale if it wins the bid. Birm­ing­ham is due to sub­mit its bid in late Au­gust.

The win­ning city will be cho­sen by Septem­ber 30 when the fi­nal bid will be sub­mit­ted to the in­ter­na­tional Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion.

The judges will then re­view the bids in Oc­to­ber and is ex­pected to an­nounce the host city in Novem­ber.

The hon­est an­swer to who’s the favourite is that you can­not call it Paul Blan­chard

> An artist’s im­pres­sion of the pro­posed Birm­ing­ham Aquat­ics Cen­tre as the city bids for the 2022 Com­mon­wealth Games

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