Durban stripped of Commonwealth Games

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II and Anna Meares attend the launch of The Queen's Baton Relay. Picture: Getty
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II and Anna Meares attend the launch of The Queen's Baton Relay. Picture: Getty
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Durban has been stripped of the 2022 Commonwealth Games after failing to meet key obligations – on the same day the Queen started the 2018 Games baton relay in London.

A review by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) expressed disappointment that the information submitted by the South African city was a “significant departure” from undertakings provided in the original bid.

CGF president Louise Martin said: “In line with the mandate from members at the 2016 General Assembly, the CGF is actively exploring alternative options, including a potential replacement host.

“The CGF will continue to have an open dialogue with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee and the Republic of South Africa and remains committed to realising the shared ambitions of a future Commonwealth Games in Africa.”

Durban was awarded the Games in September 2015. But last month South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula indicated troubling financial constraints. He said at the time: “We gave it our best shot, but we can’t go beyond. If the country says we don’t have this money, we can’t.”

In a statement yesterday, the CGF said: “The Commonwealth Games Federation has completed its review of the final information submitted by South Africa on 30 November, 2016 to determine ­whether their proposals for hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games are consistent with their original bid commitments and the host city contract.

“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 … have not been met under the revised proposition.”

CGF chief executive David Grevemberg said: “We are sad, of course we are, but particularly for the people of South Africa. But, having measured the progress made by Durban 2022 against the bid commitments, we felt we had no choice to take this decision.”

Late last month Liverpool major Joe Anderson expressed an interest in taking over should Durban’s hosting of the event fall through.

Meanwhile, the Queen set the Commonwealth Games baton on its journey around the globe ahead of the 2018 Games hosted by the Australian Gold Coast following a ceremony at Buckingham ­Palace yesterday. Inside the baton is a message from the monarch, which will be read at the opening ceremony next April.

The first bearer was Australian cycling legend and Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares. Double Olympic gold medal cyclist Victoria Pendleton was the second bearer.