Northern Ireland

Commonwealth officials to meet in Belfast over future of youth Games

Commonwealth Youth Games
Image caption Belfast is due to be handed the Games at the closing ceremony of the Bahamas Games on 23 July

Officials from the Commonwealth Games Federation will meet later to get an update on the plans to host the 2021 youth games in Belfast.

The BBC understands the Games may now not come to Northern Ireland because of the collapse of devolved government.

Belfast is due to be handed the Games at the closing ceremony of the Bahamas Games next month.

However, the business case has not been signed off by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Officials will be expecting an update on how the Games are progressing from local organisers.

Louise Martin, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation and David Grevemberg, the chief executive of the games, will both attend the meeting at Belfast's Stormont Hotel in Belfast.

The meeting is being hosted by the Northern Ireland Sports Forum and a number of sporting bodies are expected to attend the talks.

'Embarrassment'

The Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council intends to tell the federation it is still committed to the Games and hopes the issue of funding can be resolved.

Last week, the Department of the Economy told the BBC that it was unable to sign off on the Games because they were "not value for money".

In a statement the department said: "Unfortunately, there are no senior officials available to attend the meeting with the Commonwealth Games Federation."

Image copyright SNS
Image caption Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, will be in Belfast for the meeting

Ulster Unionist MLA Alan Chambers has said his party is "sharing the embarrassment" of the organisers over the situation.

"This will completely undermine international confidence in Northern Ireland's ability to deliver headline sporting events," he said.

'Global stage'

Green Party leader Steven Agnew said: "The failure of the traditional parties to deliver stable government is having a serious impact across a range of issues.

"Our schools and hospitals have paid the price and now our sporting and tourism sectors look to be hit," he said.

"I would hope that the staging of the Youth Commonwealth Games can be salvaged.

"The future of our young sports stars shouldn't be jeopardised because of political failings."

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle said the delay in agreeing the business case had left the NI Commonwealth Games Council "in limbo", and not knowing whether it had support for the delivery of the Games.

He added that Northern Ireland had much to offer.

"This is a perfect opportunity to showcase on the global stage our ability to host world-class international events," he said.

"It is important we take every opportunity to do so."

About 1,000 young athletes are due to take part in the Games, which would have been a landmark event for Northern Ireland's centenary year.

Sports stars like Carl Frampton, Michael Conlon, Jessica Ennis Hill, Beth Tweddle and Louis Smith have all taken part in previous events.

Related Topics

More on this story