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Christchurch wants to use 2022 Commonwealth Games to help rebuild city devastated by earthquake

Wednesday, 26 October 2011
By Duncan Mackay

Christchurch seven_months_after_earthquake_September_2011October 26 - Christchurch, the New Zealand city still recovering from the earthquakes which devastated it, could be part of a nationwide bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The possibility of New Zealand hosting more major international sports event has been discussed after the country's successful hosting of the Rugby World Cup, which concluded on Sunday (October 23) with the All Blacks lifting the trophy after beating France in the final.

"We have seen how well Rugby World Cup 2011 worked having Auckland as the central venue for what was truly a stadium of four million people," said Bob Parker, the Mayor of Christchurch.

"I can envisage the same scenario for Christchurch's role in hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

"I am suggesting that Christchurch would host the opening and closing ceremonies along with both the track and field and swimming events, with other events spread throughout the country.

"To host the 2022 Commonwealth Games would be a wonderful goal for the city.

"The city needs an aspirational target and in 2022 we will have a stunning new city to introduce to the world.

"Let us, along with our Government, embrace this challenge.

"We have to rebuild our sports facilities anyway and will have the greater part of the budget to do this from insurance payouts."

Parker says that given the most devastating earthquake struck on February 22 2022 is a very significant number for Christchurch.

The quake measured 6.3 on the Richter scale and killed 181 people.

It was the second earthquake to hit the city in five months as in September 2010 one measuring 7.1 had occured near Christchurch.

Despite widespread damage there were no fatalities.

There had been widespread anticipation that Auckland would bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games but they decided against putting themselves forward because the New Zealand Government would not support it financially.

Christchurch hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1974, widely considered one of the most successful in the event's history.

Filbert Bayi_beats_John_Walker_1974_Commonwealth_Games
The highlight of Games, the first event to be shown in colour on New Zealand television, came in the 1500 metres where Tanzania's Filbert Bayi beat the home favourite John Walker to win the 1500 metres in a world record of 3min 32.16sec, a mark that stood for five years until it was broken by Britain's Sebastian Coe.

The QEII Park, the Stadium which hosted the athletics as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, was severely damaged beyond repair by February's earthquake.

Only a month before it had hosted the International Paralympic Committee World Athletics Championships, where South Africa's Oscar Pistorius won three gold medals. 

The damage caused by the earthquake also forced Christchurch to withdraw from hosting matches during the Rugby World Cup. 

But any potential bid for 2022 from Christchurch - or any other city in New Zealand - could be scuppered next month if the Australian city Gold Coast wins its bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. 

They are facing rivals Hambantota, from Sri Lanka, at the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis on November 11. 

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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