Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

No funding for bid to host Youth Commonwealth Games

Published 14/09/2015

The chance for Northern Ireland to bid to host the Youth Commonwealth Games looks to be in jeopardy.
The chance for Northern Ireland to bid to host the Youth Commonwealth Games looks to be in jeopardy.

The Executive has not committed to fund a bid for Northern Ireland to host the Youth Commonwealth Games, a government spokesman said.

More than 3,000 people would be expected to attend the 2021 event, including athletes, support staff and spectators. But tourism authorities said it would not generate enough money for the local economy to justify the outlay.

Meetings of the Executive have been suspended because of the political impasse.

A Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure spokesman said: "Any decision to host the Games in 2021 depends on a significant financial commitment from the Executive.

"Unfortunately, it has not been possible to secure that commitment to date."

Conal Heatley, executive officer at the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council (NICGC) - which is spearheading the bid, claimed there should have been more official support ahead of an end of month deadline for submitting the offer.

"There appears to be a blockage and a lack of responsibility from government."

A total of 16 Northern Ireland athletes took part in this year's Games in Samoa, which ended on Friday, in events including swimming, boxing, athletics, squash and lawn bowls.

The team won 12 medals across the five days of competition, their highest total at a Commonwealth Youth Games.

The NICGC has made an expression of interest to host the event in 2021.

Last year, the Assembly supported a proposal that the Council prepared a bid - a plan welcomed by the Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.

But a spokeswoman for Tourism NI said it had given consistent advice to Mr Heatley that the application would not meet its criteria for tourism events funding.

The organisers have requested £3 million. This would require an economic impact of £15 million, she said. The estimated pay off is £1.25 million.

Tourism NI added: "Furthermore, there is limited potential for extensive global media coverage through broadcast/PR that would generate the level of impact required."

The self-declared aim of the Games is to potentially attract more than 3,000 attendees including athletes, support staff and spectators. Tourism NI said: "This falls well below the minimum standard required in our events fund criteria.

"The organisers have requested 100% public funding for the event. Tourism NI can only contribute funding of up to 50% of eligible costs of any event."

Mr Heatley added: "There is undoubtedly wide support for a Northern Ireland bid across the Games family, but we will fail unless movement is made very soon.

"The blame will certainly not lie at our door, nor with SportNI who have supported us very well on this matter.

"Questions must be asked of Tourism NI/ the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment who 'own' events."

Executive meetings have been stalled after the DUP said its ministers would not take part until talks aimed at saving devolution are concluded.

Basil McCrea, leader of NI21, said : "It looks like it (a Games bid) might be one of the first casualties."

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph