Chief Heatley: Any Northern Ireland bid for Commonwealth Games is decades away
A top sporting official has said that Northern Ireland is 'multiple decades' away from considering bidding for the Commonwealth Games.
The comments come from Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council (NICGC) Chief Executive Officer Conal Heatley, an instrumental figure in bringing the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games to Belfast.
Monday's announcement that the Youth Games were on their way to Northern Ireland was greeted with much pride by those behind the bid, intent on making the event the best ever.
Asked if the 2021 extravaganza, which will welcome 1,000 young athletes aged between 14 and 18 from Commonwealth countries to Belfast and surrounding areas, could be a forerunner for a senior Commonwealth Games, Heatley was honest in his assessment.
"I think that would be a huge, huge step," admitted Heatley.
"The cost of the Youth Games in Northern Ireland will be in the small number of millions. The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow cost £534m. That was given the infrastructure they already had with big stadiums and their facilities which were a lot more developed than what we have currently. Never say never, but I think we are talking multiple decades away."
Belfast's Commonwealth Youth Games, involving up to nine sports, will be held from July 27 to August 1 in 2021. There is a sense that a solid sporting legacy could be left behind.
Brian Henning, Chair of Sport Northern Ireland, said: "Sport NI is delighted at the news that Northern Ireland has secured the CWYG 2021, and is pleased to have provided support to the successful bid.
"Over many years, Sport NI has assisted in the planning and delivery of many major sporting events and looks forward to maximising the sporting benefits from such a prestigious event."
Commonwealth Games Federation President, Louise Martin CBE, added: "The Games are an inspiring demonstration of the life-changing power of sport."