London, Mar 15, GNA – Durban, which would have been the first African country to host the Commonwealth Games, has been stripped of the 2022 event because the South African government would not make financial commitments to back the four-yearly sporting extravaganza.
Making the announcement in London on Commonwealth Day on Monday, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) said that having reviewed final information on hosting the Games provided by South Africa, the new proposals were not “consistent with their original bid commitments and the host city contract”.
The CGF added: “It is with disappointment that the detailed review has concluded that there is a significant departure from the undertakings provided in Durban’s bid and as a result a number of key obligations and commitments in areas such as governance, venues, funding and risk management/assurance have not been met under the revised proposition.”
The President of the CGF, Louise Martin, said: “The CGF will continue to have an open dialogue with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the Republic of South Africa and remains committed to realising the shared ambitions of a future Commonwealth Games in Africa.”
She said that new venues were being looked at, adding: “In line with the mandate from members at the 2016 General Assembly and the CGF is actively exploring alternative options, including a potential replacement host.
“The CGF is fully confident and committed to delivering a successful Commonwealth Games for athletes and fans in 2022.”
Two British cities, Liverpool and Birmingham, are reported to have expressed interest in hosting the 2022 Games.
It was estimated that it would have cost over $600 million to stage the Games in Durban, which was selected in 2015 to continue a Commonwealth sporting tradition that began in 1930.
Gideon Sam, President of the SASCOC and a vice-president of the CGF, told Reuters: "This is a huge disappointment for us and for the whole African continent.
"But without the necessary government guarantees, we couldn't move on.
"Everybody was very excited to see the Commonwealth Games staged in Durban, which was very well equipped to host the event, but once the economics started to play a role, it became difficult.”
He added that South Africa had hoped to host the Games “for all of Africa, and so this is a very sad day for the whole continent”.
South Africa has successfully hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995; the African Cup of Nations (1996 and 2013); the Cricket World Cup (2003); and the Football World Cup (2010), although Cape Town failed in its bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games
On the day of the Durban announcement, Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, set the Queen’s Baton Relay in motion for the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be hosted by the Australian city, Gold Coast, by placing a message to the Commonwealth and its athletes inside the distinctive baton at a ceremony at the Buckingham Palace.
The Queen said: "Carried on its way by thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds, by the time it reaches its final destination, The Queen’s Baton will have brought together through its route and symbolism, almost 2.5 billion people who share the special connection of being Commonwealth citizens.”
The baton will travel through all Commonwealth member countries over 288 days, covering 230,000 kilometres to its final destination, the opening ceremony of the Gold Coast Games on April 4.
The first stop on the international journey will be in Sierra Leone this week.
The baton will arrive back in Australia and start its Australian journey on Christmas Day 2017, visiting every state and territory across the country for 100 days.
With peacebuilding being the theme for this year’s Commonwealth Day celebrations, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland spoke of the 52-member organisation’s contribution to supporting social progress, advancing democracy and building economic resilience and prosperity.
“We cherish the spirit of respect and understanding that inspires us as ‘A Peacebuilding Commonwealth’ to work for the eradication of all forms of violence from homes and communities, and with goodwill and cordiality for the comity of nations,” she said.
“We stand in solidarity alongside the vulnerable and marginalised, and all who live in fear of discrimination or oppression, pledging to uphold their rights to justice and dignity.”
In her Commonwealth Day message, The Queen said: “The cornerstones on which peace is founded are, quite simply, respect and understanding for one another.
“Working together, we build peace by defending the dignity of every individual and community.”