Durban stripped of 2022 Commonwealth Games

March 13, 2017
FILE - This is a Monday, March 2, 2015 file photo of South Africa's Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula, center, holds candidate city Durban's 2022 Commonwealth Games bid book with President of the Commonwealth Games Federation Malaysia's Prince Imran, center right, in London, Monday, March 2, 2015. Durban has been stripped of the right to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games because the government couldn't provide financial guarantees it was announced Monday March 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham/File)

Durban was stripped of the right to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games on Monday mainly because the South African government couldn’t provide financial guarantees.

Also, other commitments the city made when it won the bid had still not been met nearly two years later.

Durban presented a revised budget and hosting proposal to the Commonwealth Games Federation over the weekend but the last-ditch effort to save Africa’s first international multi-sport event wasn’t enough.

“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,” the CGF said in a statement.

The CGF was “actively exploring alternative options, including a potential replacement host,” CGF president Louise Martin said.

Liverpool has already expressed interest in replacing Durban.

Durban’s failure is a major embarrassment for South Africa, with the bid initially hailed as historic as the first African host of the Commonwealth Games.

But ever since it won the games as the sole bidder in September 2015, Durban missed deadlines to provide the financial guarantees.

“It’s a big disappointment for Africa,” South African Olympic committee president and CGF vice president Gideon Sam told The Associated Press.

There was no immediate reaction from the South African government, but the sports ministry said it would hold a news conference with Durban officials on Tuesday.

Money was not the only problem, but it was the most significant, and Durban’s fate was another indicator of the heavy cost countries must pay to put on major sports events.

In 2015, the head of the bid committee said the east coast city needed $670 million. The South African government was asked to provide $470 million of that, bid chief executive Tubby Reddy said.

Up to Saturday, when the CGF met with South African officials in London, there was still no signed document from the South African government guaranteeing it would pay for the games, CGF vice president Sam said.

Durban instead presented a scaled-down version of the games to the CGF.

“The Commonwealth Games Federation said, ‘That’s not going to work. We’ll look for another city,’” Sam said.

South Africa has also been touted as a possible Olympic host, and was considering bidding for the Summer Games in as early as 2028. Sam said that any Olympic bid was “definitely not on the table” for South Africa now. Durban is the country’s preferred choice as an Olympic host, and the 2022 Commonwealth Games were seen as an important stepping stone.

“For now, I don’t think anybody (in South Africa) wants to open their mouth about the Olympics,” Sam said.

Gold Coast in Australia will host the next Commonwealth Games next year.

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