Wednesday, 15 March 2017 14:16

Call for 2022 Commonwealth Games to come to London

A campaign is growing for London to make a bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games — a decade after it hosted the Olympics.

The Commonwealth Games Federation is starting the search for a new host city after Durban, in South Africa, was stripped of the honour. It had failed to meet promises made in its bid.

Birmingham and Liverpool have already said they would be keen to stage the games. Today London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the Standard he was open to ideas if funding was available.

It raises the tantalising prospect of London recreating the spirit of its highly successful 2012 Olympic Games — and seeing the legacy venues packed with fans.

Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas said it should be seen as London’s chance to repeat its 2012 triumph. “London is the capital of the Commonwealth but has never hosted the Games,” he said.

“Post-Brexit it would be a great signal of Britain’s and particularly London’s continuing openness. It would further boost interest in sport, could generate further investment in facilities and help to boost trade between the Commonwealth and the UK.”

Derek Wyatt, the former rugby international and ex-MP for Sittingbourne & Sheppey, said the Games could be used to revive sporting facilities in south London.

“I think with the Mayor of London’s support we could put a bid in,” he said. “It has to be London South to help rebuild infrastructure there. They are always overlooked. Bidding and winning could give Crystal Palace football team a new stadium.”

The centrepiece of the 2012 Games — the London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Park — has been converted into a year-round multi-use arena.

Home to West Ham, it now has a new roof, retractable seating and better facilities for visitors. This year it will host the World Championships and the World Para Athletics Championships.

Mr Khan’s spokesman said the Mayor was interested in hearing people’s views and ideas. He added: “It would have been fantastic to see the Games in Africa for the first time and it is sad that is not now happening.

“The Commonwealth Games are a wonderful sporting event and London would listen to any proposal to host in 2022. However, there would be a number of practical issues to consider with the Government and other stakeholders, including the substantial amount of funding it would require.”

A government source said ministers would wait to hear what the Commonwealth Games Federation wanted to do. An official noted that Liverpool and Birmingham were “enthusiastic” and both hoped to launch bids.