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Commonwealth Games-2022 deadline looms with Birmingham in box seat

By Mark Gleeson


LONDON, Sept 20 (REUTERS) Potential candidate cities for the 2022 Commonwealth Games have until the end of the month to submit details of intent with Britain's Birmingham seen to be in pole position as organisers continue the search for a new host. Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and the Canadian city of Victoria are also in the running but both have sent mixed signals in recent months concerning their ability to pay for the event. South Africa's Durban were removed as hosts in March after failing to agree to financial guarantees and losing government support. "Over the past few months, an expert CGF (Commonwealth Games Federation) review team has been working with countries from around the Commonwealth in the evaluation of proposals of a variety of host cities," a federation spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday. "Submissions from candidate cities are to be submitted to the CGF by September 30. "The CGF Executive Board will then take time to comprehensively review the submissions before making a final decision on the host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which is expected by the end of the year." The board meets in Sri Lanka early next month. Birmingham was chosen ahead of Liverpool by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as Britain's preferred option after officials and independent assessors weighed up the merits of the two cities. After the decision, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said: "The government will look at the final bid proposal from Birmingham and decide if a formal bid will be submitted to the Commonwealth Games Federation. "We need to be completely satisfied that the bid offers overall value for money from hosting the Games and that a strong economic and sporting legacy can be delivered from it. "The UK has fantastic expertise in hosting the biggest events in sport and if we are to bid and are selected to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022, I have no doubt that Birmingham would host an excellent sporting spectacle." Kuala Lumpur and Victoria's bids, meanwhile, look to be hampered by a lack of government support. The Olympic Council of Malaysia said its government's consideration of a Kuala Lumpur bid would only be finalised in the days leading up to the deadline, while Victoria have been told they will not be supported by home province British Columbia, leaving it to local business to keep the bid alive. Kuala Lumpur held the 1998 Games and Victoria were the last Canadian hosts in 1994. Australia will only submit a formal bid for 2022 if an alternative host cannot be found, with Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney having all expressed an interest. "It would be much, much better for the movement if it was in another country, although having it in Australia would be better than not having a Commonwealth Games at all," Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) chief executive Craig Phillips said. Australia host next year's Games on the Gold Coast from April 4-18, bringing together athletes from the 52 members of the Commonwealth, most of which were at one time colonies of Britain. Durban would have been the first African hosts of the Games but developed cold feet over the costs after winning the bid. REUTERS SDR 1211

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