Source: www.insidethegames.biz

By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

Cardiff City StadiumCardiff has begun the process to decide whether it should bid to bring the Commonwealth Games back to the Welsh capital, 68 years after it last staged them.

The city has opened discussions with the Welsh Government about launching a campaign to bid for the 2026 Games with the Millennium Stadium as the centrepiece.

Meetings have been held with Wales' Government Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones and is hoping to get the backing of the Welsh Assembly to stage the event for the first time since 1958.

"Cardiff has always had an ambition to host the Commonwealth Games, since the late 1990s we've been talking about it,"Steve Morris, the sports development manager for Cardiff Council, told the Western Mail.

"We originally talked about bidding for the 2014 Games, then 2022, but we wanted to bide our time and get it right."

The plans include installing an athletics track in the Millennium Stadium, the home of the Welsh rugby team.

The idea of a bid from Cardiff has become a more realistic prospect following a fact-finding trip to last year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

"Obviously Delhi had its problems, especially with the Athletes' Village, and I learned a lot from my trip there," said Morris.

"It gave us some ideas for how to do some things, and how not to do other things.

"One interesting idea was having dedicated Commonwealth lanes on major roads - like the M4.

"This would allow quick access for competitors to the venues."

Cardiff_programme_from_1958When Cardiff hosted the Games in 1958 1,122 athletes from 35 countries took part in ten sports.

In Delhi 6,081 athletes from 71 countries took part in 17 sports.

Chris Jenkins, executive director of the Commonwealth Games Council for Wales, said keeping the costs down is important.

"We've got a lot of venues in Cardiff and around South Wales we can modify and use in any bid," he said.

"It's important to remember the bid process is very long and complicated.

"I think we're well placed, though, and there's been a lot of work done in the last six months to lay the groundwork for a strong bid.

"Whether it's 2022 or 2026 doesn't matter, I'd urge people not to get hung up on the date.

"The important thing is we don't end up with a load of white elephants like Athens did after the [2004] Olympics with stadiums and venues they can't use for any other purpose."

A potential problem for Cardiff's bid, however, could be that Birmingham is also considering a bid - but for 2022.

It is unlikely that the Commonwealth Games Federation would award the Games to two cities in Britain back-to-back, especially as Glasgow is already hosting 2014.

But Lynn Davies, the 1968 Olympic long jump champion who is arguably Wales' best-ever athlete and is now the President of UK Athletics, is backing the proposed bid from Cardiff.

"When you look at what Wales has staged in the last decade, with the FA Cup finals, the Rugby World Cup and the Ryder Cup, I think Cardiff really is a sport city," he told the Western Mail.

"Why not capitalise on it and show the rest of the world what Cardiff and Wales has got?"


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