An unexpected twist came at the end of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) two-day Executive Board meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka Friday as the sole bidder to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Birmingham, has been deemed non-compliant.
Birmingham was the only bidder to meet the September 30th application deadline after the West Midlands city was selected as the British candidate over Liverpool and received a full endorsement from the government.
There had also been interest in bidding from Victoria and Toronto in Canada and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia when the CGF opened the site selection process to replace Durban as Games host after the South African city was stripped of the Games after missing financial milestones. CGF President Louise Martin announced that a new deadline of November 30 has been set in order to further vet Birmingham and other possible candidates, should they come forward.
With Gold Coast set to host the 2018 edition of the Games, interested Australian cities held back from bidding when the national authority said it would only vie for the 2022 event if there were no other international candidates. Developments Friday may have opened the window for possible cities such as Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne to prepare candidacies – or give more time for Victoria or Kuala Lumpur to garner lacking government support.
Martin, however, offered congratulations to Birmingham for “preparing a comprehensive proposal,” a hint that the CGF is merely moving forward with an abundance of caution and that the British bid will likely be its choice in December. The organization will not want a repeat of the problems that arose when Durban, as the original sole bidder to host in 2022, was summarily elected by the CGF only to discover that the city had taken on too big of a project.
The British bids had been considered early favorites to replace Durban and prepare the Games in a shortened timeline because they had already been preparing bids for the 2026 Games.
The British Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) agreed to fund a USD $1 billion price tag with the City of Birmingham contributing 25 per cent to the project.
The loose ends that remain are unclear assurances about land availability for the Athletes’ Village and conditions associated with government funding guarantees. Discussions over these issues will be held between the parties in the coming weeks.
A Birmingham 2022 spokesperson told the BBC “We expected a period of discussion and negotiation with the CGF following submission and we await further clarification from the CGF about the next steps.”
Martin said “We have carefully reviewed the bids and updates received as part of the ongoing 2022 candidate city process and have agreed – noting the challenging timescales and no fully compliant bid – that further time should be given to all interested parties to enable the submission of fully compliant proposals.”
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.