MELBOURNE (Reuters) - City officials in Perth and Melbourne are leading an Australian push to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games after Durban was stripped of the right this week.
“An event of the scale of the Commonwealth Games would further enhance Perth as a world-class city and destination and greatly stimulate the economy,” Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi told Australian Associated Press in a statement.
Melbourne hosted the 2006 Commonwealth Games and local residents would gladly welcome the 2022 event, Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said.
“We are one of the few cities in the world with existing sporting infrastructure that can cope with a major world event like the Commonwealth Games,” he said.
English cities Birmingham and Liverpool have already made a pitch to step in for Durban, having already targeted the 2026 event.
The northern city of Manchester, which hosted the Games in 2002, also declared its interest, British media reported on Wednesday, citing a city council spokesman.
The Commonwealth Games Federation will invite cities to host the Games rather than launch another bidding process.
Victoria state capital Melbourne has a long tradition of hosting major sports events, including the Australian Open tennis and the series-opening Formula One race at Albert Park.
Perth, the capital of resource-rich Western Australia state, also boasts extensive sports infrastructure and hosted the 1962 Commonwealth Games.
The state governments will need to throw their weight behind the push for Melbourne and Perth to be considered.
Neither have committed to an official pitch but Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said his government would have a “close look at it”.
Australia’s former International Olympic Committee vice-president Kevan Gosper urged officials to back Melbourne’s claims.
“There will always be critics and naysayers but Melbourne could lay it on tomorrow if it wanted. It has the facilities. It has the crowds,” he told local media on Tuesday.
Commonwealth Games Australia has said it would support the CGF “in any way required” to find a new host.
The quadrennial Games bring together athletes from the 52 members of the Commonwealth, most of which were at one time colonies of Britain.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly