Belfast loses 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games
The Commonwealth Games Federation has reopened the bidding process for the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games after Belfast in Northern Ireland was dropped as host for financial reasons.
The city was awarded the games in February 2016, but no funding agreement had been reached when Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government collapsed in January of last year.
The situation is unchanged and, following a meeting of its executive board in Birmingham, England last week, the CGF has now taken the decision to find a new host.
The selection process is under way, and is expected to take around six months, with Belfast welcome to bid again if it so desires.
It is the second time in recent years that the CGF has had to relocate the Commonwealth Youth Games with Nassau in The Bahamas having stepped in as the host of the 2017 edition at late notice, after Saint Lucia withdrew citing financial constraints.
In addition, the 2022 Commonwealth Games were last year reallocated to Birmingham after the original host of Durban in South Africa was stripped of the rights because of a lack of financial guarantees.
In a statement on Friday, Louise Martin, the president of the CGF, said: “The CGF Executive Board empathises with the ongoing circumstances surrounding Northern Ireland’s legislative Assembly and Executive and has maintained a collaborative dialogue with our colleagues in Belfast about their ambitions to stage the Commonwealth Youth Games.
“However, with no funding guarantees in place, the CGF Executive Board expressed its disappointment to the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council and resolved to begin discussions and invite expressions of interest from other Commonwealth cities who wish to build on the successes of Samoa 2015 and Bahamas 2017 and host the 2021 edition of the Youth Games.
“Belfast will be able to re-submit its candidature for 2021, or may wish to postpone its ambitions for a future edition. However, alternative cities and their respective Commonwealth Games Associations will now be given the opportunity to work with the CGF to develop impactful, cost- effective hosting proposals that bring to life the event’s vision to inspire and engage up to 1000 of the Commonwealth’s finest young athletes in a festival of sport, development and global friendship.”
However, the NIGCG has expressed disappointment at the decision to deprive Belfast of hosting rights, saying it was "a slap in the face for our young people.”
It added: "The Youth Games would have brought nearly 2,000 of the world's finest young athletes to Northern Ireland to compete in more than 20 sports. A legacy plan involving sport, volunteering, culture, integration, social cohesion, education and health has been discarded."