Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland may prepare bid for 2021 Youth Games

By John Flack

Northern Ireland could stage the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games if a motion to develop a bid to host the event is passed by the Assembly.

The motion, put forward by four members of the DCAL committee, will be debated next week and there is every chance it will be given the green light.

The Commonwealth Youth Games (CWYG), unlike the adult version, is a relatively new event and has been on the calendar since 2000.

It has been staged in the British Isles on two previous occasions, in Edinburgh in 2000 and the Isle of Man in 2011

Staging it in the province would be manageable as around 1,000 competitors, from the majority of the 71 Commonwealth countries, generally take part while almost 5,000 were in Glasgow in July for the main event.

A total of 17 sports were included in the last Commonwealths but the Under-18 version has had between six and 10 in the past.

Next year's CWYG will be held in Samoa and will include aquatics, archery, athletics, bowls, boxing, rugby sevens, squash, tennis and weightlifting.

There are no compulsory sports and the only stipulation is that the list must be approved by the Commonwealth Games Council and include one team event.

The junior showpiece has been a launching pad for our athletes in the past and boxer Michael Conlan won a bronze medal in the bantamweight division in India in 2008.

After winning an Olympic bronze at London 2012 he then struck gold at Glasgow 2014 while flyweight Joe Fitzpatrick claimed a bronze medal at the 2011 CWYG.

It cost the Isle of Man £1.7m to host the Youth edition in 2011 so the outlay to stage it here would be considerably less than the £4.2 million that was the approximate figure for holding the start of the Giro d'Italia in the province.

"I cannot see why anyone would oppose the motion," said DUP MLA Alastair Ross. "We should be ambitious and we have, having hosted events such as the recent (Carl) Frampton World title fight, the Irish Open golf, the World Police and Fire Games and the Giro.

"There is no doubt that we have not only proven we are capable of delivering top class events but additionally that the Northern Ireland public support them.

"The long-term strategy for Northern Ireland should be to continue to attract major events. We are probably still some distance from hosting the Commonwealth Games itself, but it should be a longer term goal.

"Alongside existing facilities we would need improved infrastructure but with recent stadia development and the new 50 metre pool in Bangor, we are getting there."

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