LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 28 – Liverpool is ready to stage the 2022 Commonwealth Games if Durban withdraws because of financial pressures.
South Africa sports minister Fikile Mbalula said Tuesday that the government might scrap Durban 2022 due to the cost of staging the multi-sport event.
That prompted Joe Anderson, the mayor of northwest English city Liverpool, to tweet: “Happy to confirm I’ve told government of our desire to host 2022 CWG.”
A Liverpool City Council spokesperson said: “Liverpool is interested in hosting the Games in 2022.
“We had heard Durban might be unable to deliver the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and have already indicated to the Government that we are very willing to host them instead.”
Liverpool is a city with a reputation for sport that includes being home to two long-established English Premier League football clubs in Liverpool and Everton as well being the birthplace of John Conteh, a former Commonwealth Games boxing gold medallist who later became a world light-heavyweight champion.
In 2002, the Commonwealth Games was staged in the nearby city of Manchester, which has long vied with Liverpool for football and cultural pre-eminence in the northwest.
Durban was named as the 2022 Games host in September 2015 but Mbalula told a news conference in Cape Town on Tuesday that the South African government and the organising Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) had still to reach an agreement over costs.
“It does not look like we will find each other,” said Mbalula, who added that a final decision was expected from the federation when it meets shortly.
“We have given it our best shot, but we cannot live beyond our means,” he said.
“There is a possibility that it might not come in our direction at the end of the day.”
Both the 1995 rugby World Cup and the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa are seen as milestones in the country’s efforts to promote national unity since the apartheid era.
The Commonwealth Games in Durban, on the east coast, would be the first to be held in Africa.
The Games have been earmarked to start on July 18, 2022 — the late Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
According to authorities, a budget of 6.4 billion rand ($492 million, 465 million euros) has already been set aside for the Games, in a country battling high unemployment and poor growth.
The CGF is currently conducting a review of Durban’s viability as a Games host, with a spokesperson saying they were “evaluating the submissions received from South Africa to determine whether Durban’s proposals for hosting the Games are consistent with their original bid commitments”.
The event is restricted to countries that are now members of the Commonwealth, a collection of nations that were mainly once part of the British Empire.
It was first staged in 1930 when it was known as the British Empire Games.
Recent editions have taken place in Melbourne, Delhi and Glasgow, with the 2018 Commonwealth Games due to be held on Australia’s Gold Coast.