September 29, 2017 / 10:50 AM / 3 months ago

Commonwealth Games-UK Government confirms Birmingham 2022 bid

LONDON (Reuters) - Birmingham’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games will be submitted on Saturday after the British government gave the green light.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, arrives in Downing Street for a cabinet meeting, London, Britain July 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The central English city could end up as sole bidder, with Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and the Canadian city of Victoria sending mixed signals about their interest and ability to pay for the event.

Karen Bradley, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said Birmingham could count on full official backing.

“The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham would be brilliant,” Bradley said in a statement ahead of Saturday’s bid deadline. “It would showcase the best of Britain to the world and make the entire country proud.”

Bradley said the Games would also help the regional economy and leave a strong sports legacy by upgrading facilities for elite athletes and the local community.

The Games were awarded in 2015 to the South African city of Durban, which was stripped of the hosting rights last March after failing to agree to financial guarantees and losing government support.

The Commonwealth Games Federation executive board meets in Sri Lanka next month with a new host expected to be announced by the end of the year.

Britain hosted the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, two years after the London Olympics, and also the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Media reports have pointed to a budget of around 750 million pounds ($1 billion) for the 2022 Games, which would make it the most expensive sports event in the country since 2012.

Bradley said the focus would be on ensuring “maximum value for money for the taxpayer” from what was a “low-risk, high-quality proposition” with 95 percent of the venues already in existence.

The government said a full budget, including the cost of security, would be presented to parliament if Birmingham won the right to host the Games.

“If the bid is successful, the government will be the major funder with Birmingham City Council contributing 25 percent to the cost of the Games,” the statement said.

“The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport would manage the financing of the Games and will bear down heavily on costs to ensure value for public expenditure.”

($1 = 0.7469 pounds)

Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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