Several Cities Express Interest in Replacing Durban To Host 2022 Commonwealth Games

In the hours since Durban was stripped of its right to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games over last weekend, several other cities have put up their hands for the opportunity to take the South African city’s place and instead organize the Games in a shorter time frame.  Here’s a round-up of what we know.

Liverpool's Commercial District

Liverpool’s Commercial District (Wikipedia Photo)

To date Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Manchester, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Melbourne and Edmonton have expressed interest in replacing Durban to host what would have been Africa’s first-ever Commonwealth Games.  Due to missed timelines and recently realized financial constraints, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) parted ways with the city and has since spread the word that it is looking for a new city partner.

The outpouring of interest in hosting the Games is somewhat of a surprise coming only a year-and-a-half after Durban was chosen for the role unopposed after its only rival, the Canadian city of Edmonton, dropped out of the race after falling oil prices raised financial concerns.

Ian Ward, the deputy leader of Birmingham City Council released a statement this week saying “here in Birmingham, we are already in the advanced stages of producing a detailed feasibility study [for 2026] on what would be needed for a truly memorable Games in the city.  That is due to be completed in the coming weeks and we are in close contact with the Government about developing the situation.”

BBC reports a spokesperson for Liverpool City Council saying they had “already indicated to the government that we are very willing to host them (the 2022 Games) instead.”

Both Birmingham and Liverpool were already studying possible bids for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

To date Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Manchester, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Melbourne and Edmonton have expressed interest in replacing Durban to host what would have been Africa’s first-ever Commonwealth Games.

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council, the city that held the 2002 edition of the Games reportedly said “it is disappointing that South Africa and Durban have been unable to organize the 2022 Commonwealth Games.”

“Manchester has always considered itself part of the Commonwealth Games family and we worked incredibly closely with the Commonwealth Games Federation to deliver a memorable 2002 Games here in the city.”

“If we were invited to help we would be pleased to work with the Commonwealth Games federation and the government to ensure the delivery of a successful 2022 Games in England which could make a significant contribution to the growth of the northern powerhouse as well as supporting the Commonwealth sporting family.”

In London, calls to follow up on the success of the 2012 Olympic Games with a Commonwealth Games has caught the attention of Mayor Sadiq Khan.

A spokesperson for the Mayor told The Evening Standard that he wanted to listen to people’s ideas and said “it would have been fantastic to see the Games in Africa for the first time and it is sad that is not now happening.”

“The Commonwealth Games are a wonderful sporting event and London would listen to any proposal to host in 2022. However, there would be a number of practical issues to consider with the Government and other stakeholders, including the substantial amount of funding it would require.”

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) President Tan Sri Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar said the OCM are ready to submit a bid to host the Games if the government gives its consent.  He told reporters “I  believe Malaysia are capable of hosting the Commonwealth Games once again as we have done it in 1998.”

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia hosted an IOC Session in 2015 (GamesBids Photo)

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia will host the South East Asia Games this year and could leverage venues to support a Commonwealth Games (GamesBids Photo)

“With the facilities being built (and upgraded) for the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, we are certainly on the right track to become a good host for the Commonwealth Games.”

“In the end, it is a question of the government’s consent, as we will not go ahead for the Games without [it].”

India has said it also has interest in hosting the 2022 Games.  The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) said it was considering hosting again in New Delhi, where in 2010 the Games were hosted amid construction delays and a corruption scandal.

The Indian Express Daily quoted IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta saying Wednesday, “we received a communication from them (CGF) today.  Our president and members are discussing the issue.  If there is support from the government, we will consider the possibility of bidding for the Games.”

Australia Sports Minister John Eren said Melbourne could be put forward to host the Games, the same city to stage the 2006 edition.

He said “I think it is well recognized that we have the infrastructure to accommodate.”

“In an emergency we have got the infrastructure in place.

“Having said that we are having it in Queensland next year in Australia and we had it in 2006 so I am not sure it will be our turn.”

The 2018 Commonwealth Games are set to be held in Gold Coast.

Edmonton 2022 Logo

Edmonton was an original candidate to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games but dropped put before the final vote

Edmonton, the Capital city of the Province of Alberta, is also revisiting the possibility of making a run at the Games that the city had already campaigned for but later abandoned plans due to other financial priorities.

“It raises some interesting possibilities,” Mayor Don Iveson said to the CBC.

“A lot more work would need to be done,” he added, “the city could not undertake this alone — that was always an issue before.”

“The advantage is we have an awful lot of what we would need, we have a lot of the infrastructure in place or plan to be worked on.”

But with an exploratory committee already studying a possible bid for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games by Calgary, the other major city in Alberta, gaining government support and funding for the project may be a complicated task.

The CGF said it is certain it will find a replacement city to host the 2022 Games but have reportedly yet to set any timetable.

CGF President Louise Martin said Monday “The CGF is fully confident and committed to delivering a successful Commonwealth Games for athletes and fans in 2022.”

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of 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.