The Northern Ireland Sports Forum has expressed its disappointment and frustration that funding has not been secured for the hosting of the Commonwealth Youth Games in Belfast in 2021. NISF has supported the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council in their efforts to secure the necessary funding which would have seen around 1000 of the world’s finest young athletes take part in the multi-sport event.
The Head of the Civil Service has said that in the absence of a Ministerial direction, the Department for the Economy will not be in a position to fund the proposal that the games be held in Northern Ireland. With the Commonwealth Games Federation meeting on Wednesday to Friday of this week in Birmingham, it is expected that Belfast will be removed as host city of the 2021 Youth Games without the necessary support in place at this stage.
Richard Johnson, Chairperson of the NI Sports Forum, said:
“This is very disappointing news for NI Commonwealth Games Council and our member governing bodies who have put in a lot of work already to prepare for the Belfast 2021 Games. There has never been any doubt over the ability of NICGC to host the games and deliver an exciting sporting event that would be viewed across the world, further enhancing Northern Ireland’s reputation”.
“We share the frustration that the Department for the Economy’s assessment of the Business Case for financial support only evaluated the merits of the games based on the number of potential bed nights it would generate. Although we recognise this is a key outcome for any international event, it is only one of many. The assessment failed to take into account the range of other positive benefits attributed to hosting a high profile international sporting event. We are also frustrated that the NICGC and other stakeholders have not been able to gain access to the Business Case from the Department for the Economy and Tourism NI.
The likelihood of Northern Ireland losing the opportunity to host the event, which we won on merit will cause international embarrassment and goes against the Programme for Government commitments to attract major international events and to increase Northern Ireland’s international reputation.”
Ciaran Kearney, Executive Manager of the NI Sports Forum, said:
“Birmingham hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games ensures that a financial benefit in excess of £10m is expected to be presented to Stormont via the Barnett Formula and with less than a quarter of this consequential required for the Youth Games in 2021, this provides further frustration to our members and the sporting sector. The NICGC have made every effort to ensure the games takes place in Belfast and we will continue to offer them and our members our full support.
We appreciate the support we have received from the political parties regarding this issue, however the current political impasse further evidences the impact the lack of an Executive is having on major decision making across the board in Northern Ireland.”
For further comment please contact Ciaran Kearney on 028 903 83825 or email firstname.lastname@example.org