Northern Ireland

'Optimism' Commonwealth Youth Games bid can be saved

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

The Commonwealth Games Federation has said it is "optimistic" that Northern Ireland's bid to host the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games can be saved.

The event requires funding from Northern Ireland's government but is at risk after the collapse of Stormont.

Louise Martin, the federation's president, had set Thursday as the deadline to release funding.

Northern Ireland is due to be handed the event next month at the closing ceremony of the 2017 games.

Stormont collapsed in January and a deadline to restore the devolved institutions passed on Thursday.

Talks between Northern Ireland's political parties will now continue until Monday.

The Commonwealth Games Federation said it has been encouraged by political support but "empathises with the administration's current circumstances".

Landmark event

Sources have told the BBC that the federation will monitor political developments over the weekend before a decision is taken on the games' future.

The business case for funding the games has been with the Department of the Economy, but was not approved by former DUP economy minister Simon Hamilton so was not brought to the executive table.

The department said the games were not "value for money", but the BBC understands that ministers could still have approved the project if it had been discussed, and backed, by the executive.

All five main political parties attended a meeting with games officials in Belfast last Tuesday to try to find a way forward.

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.

More on this story