Call for shoot­ing con­test af­ter city ex­cludes it from 2022 Games Claims sport wasn’t in­cluded due to gun vi­o­lence

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Jonathan Walker Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

ASHOOTING con­test could be held along­side Birm­ing­ham’s Com­mon­wealth Games af­ter the city’s de­ci­sion to ex­clude the sport, some claim for ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons.

Sports Min­is­ter Tracey Crouch told MPs the Gov­ern­ment would con­sider any bid for a shoot­ing com­pe­ti­tion to run along­side the 2022 Games, af­ter they com­plained about the fail­ure to in­clude the dis­ci­pline.

A shoot­ing ground in Bis­ley, Sur­rey, could be used for the con­test. Al­though this is a long way from Birm­ing­ham, MPs pointed out that the same site was used when Manch­ester hosted the games in 2002.

Ms Crouch said: “We look at all bids from in­ter­na­tional sports and put them along­side other event strat­egy de­ci­sions. If there were a bid, we would pay at­ten­tion to it.”

Birm­ing­ham’s suc­cess­ful bid to host the games did not in­clude plans for shoot­ing, which is classed as an op­tional sport by the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion.

This is partly be­cause there are no suit­able fa­cil­i­ties in Birm­ing­ham or nearby, ac­cord­ing to Ms Crouch, al­though some MPs sus­pect that or­gan­is­ers of the Birm­ing­ham bid are “ide­o­log­i­cally op­posed” to tar­get shoot­ing.

In­stead, the op­tional sports and dis­ci­plines sub­mit­ted as part of the bid in­cluded three-on-three bas­ket­ball and three-on-three para-bas­ket­ball; track cy­cling and para-track cy­cling; rhyth­mic athlon.

But a num­ber of MPs at­tempted to per­suade the Gov­ern­ment that shoot­ing should be added.

Jim Shan­non, a DUP MP rep­re­sent­ing Strang­ford in North­ern Ire­land, pointed out that the 2018 Com­mon­wealth games in the Gold Coast, Aus­tralia, will in­clude four shoot­ing moun­tain bik­ing; div­ing; gym­nas­tics; and para-tri- dis­ci­plines: full bore, pis­tol, ri­fle and shot­gun. And he said shoot­ing was a pop­u­lar sport in North­ern Ire­land and should not be as­so­ci­ated with vi­o­lence.

“Tar­get shoot­ing has a real place in our com­mu­nity, and the skills of those who play de­serve recog­ni­tion. This is a sport in which we are recog­nised.

“The con­no­ta­tions of gun vi­o­lence must be re­moved from this dis­cus­sion, be­cause these are le­git­i­mate, law-abid­ing, li­cence-hold­ing peo­ple who have the op­por­tu­nity to shoot.”

Worces­ter­shire MP Mark Garnier (Con, Wyre For­est) said en­cour­ag­ing chil­dren to learn how to shoot could be good for them.

Many peo­ple found the idea “ab­hor­rent”, he said, but he con­tin­ued: “Ac­tu­ally, I was taught how to shoot at a very early age. One of the great things about teach­ing chil­dren how to shoot is that they learn an in­cred­i­ble amount of dis­ci­pline and an in­cred­i­ble amount of re­spect for each other and for sport.

“We end up with very re­spon­si­ble young adults com­ing out as a re­sult of all the dis­ci­pline and ca­ma­raderie that we get around shoot­ing sports.”

Ms Crouch told the Com­mons that the 2022 Games would show­case Birm­ing­ham to the world.

She said: “The games will leave a legacy of new and re­fur­bished sports fa­cil­i­ties in Birm­ing­ham and the west mid­lands, in­clud­ing a fully re­fur­bished Alexan­der ath­let­ics sta­dium and a brand new aquat­ics cen­tre in Sandwell.”

The con­no­ta­tions of gun vi­o­lence must be re­moved from this dis­cus­sion

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