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South Africa ‘disappointed’ as Durban loses Commonwealth Games

South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula addresses a press conference in Durban on March 14, 2017 © AFP / ANESH DEBIKY

DURBAN, South Africa, Mar 14 – South Africa voiced disappointment Tuesday that Durban had been stripped of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, blaming financial disagreements but vowing to host major tournaments in the future.

Commonwealth Games chiefs confirmed on Monday they were looking for a new venue after Durban failed to meet “key obligations” during its preparations.

“(The government) wishes to express its disappointment at the announcement… despite all the efforts and the positive responses,” sports minister Fikile Mbalula said at a press conference in Durban.

“Clauses in the agreement were seriously going to compromise South Africa and government was not prepared to sign an open-ended guarantee.”

Mbalula insisted that South Africa was ready to host other global sporting events, and said that 2023 rugby World Cup officials were in the country on an inspection visit.

“South Africa remains a premier destination for such mega sporting events and our solid infrastructure holds the country in good stead,” he said.

Following the meeting in London, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) said it was “actively exploring alternative options” but gave no further details.

Durban 2022 — which had adopted the slogan “Ready to inspire” — would have been the first Commonwealth Games to be held in Africa.

The city on South Africa’s east coast was named as host in 2015, but Mbalula said last month that the government and the CGF had not reached agreement over costs.

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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.

Liverpool, in northwest England, has previously said it could be prepared to host the 2022 Games if they were not in Durban.

The Commonwealth Games are restricted to countries that are members of the Commonwealth, a collection of nations that were mainly once part of the British Empire.

It was known as the British Empire Games when first staged in 1930.

The 2018 Games will be hosted on Australia’s Gold Coast.

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