The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Evaluation Commission has recommended that the CGF General Assembly votes to award the South African city of Durban the 2022 Commonwealth Games next month, but their report, released today, outlined several areas requiring immediate attention.
As the sole bidder for the Games, following the withdrawal of the Canadian city Edmonton in February due to falling oil prices, the 54-page report aims to focus on a risk-based approach to Durban’s bid, outlining areas which present the greatest hurdles to the hosting of the Games.
Among those considered were the potential financial ramifications and reputational risks associated with awarding Durban the Games, and as such they have sought assurances that key concerns will be resolved shortly after the General Assembly, which is due to take place in Auckland, New Zealand on September 2.
Having failed to provide the CGF Evaluation Commission with financial guarantees, which would cover a potential financial shortfall prior to the publishing of the report, Durban 2022 have been requested to offer assurances prior to the General Assembly.
Should they fail to provide the guarantees, the signing of the Host City Contract would likely be deferred until the condition is met, with a deadline for a resolution proposed within 90 days of the end of the Assembly.
The report, however, reflects that Durban 2022 is continuing to work across the three levels of Government in South Africa and have advised them they will be able to meet the requirement, while the CGF has also noted Ministerial support of the bid.
Additionally, clarification is also being sought regarding the financial arrangements of upgrades to venues, with recommendation that an overall venue delivery strategy is put into place to ensure the most efficient delivery of venues rather than having individual plans, as there are currently.
As expected, the report also reveals venue upgrades are set to take place at the outdoor Rachel Finlayson swimming pool which was proposed as Durban’s first choice venue for the Games.
While the pool is set to be improved and its potential attractiveness as a Games venue praised, contingency plans are being sought regarding the possibility of rain and colder weather, due to the Games being scheduled to be held during South Africa’s winter, with the Opening Ceremony set to take place on July 18, Nelson Mandela International Day, and expected to close on July 30.
Venue upgrades are due to take place at the Queensmead Hockey Stadium and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, with the latter set to stage squash competition during the Games, while temporary venues for beach volleyball, wheelchair basketball and shooting are set to be funded by Durban 2022.
With no new permanent facilities needing to be built, Durban’s venue strategy is praised for being in line with the city’s long-term plan and for reducing risks, while the concept also earns praise for having 80 per cent of venues within a 2.5 kilometre radius.
The proposed deadline to clarify issues related to the venues is 180 days after the signing of the Host City Contract, while changes to the sport programme of the Games, including the addition of cricket, could also be made after the General Assembly.
The changes could be made in light of the passing of the Commonwealth Games Strategic Plan Transformation 2022, which will be voted on at the Assembly.
However, Commonwealth Games Evaluation Commission chair Louise Martin explained the plan has already played a role in shaping their report, following the four-day visit to Durban, as the CGF look to bring the Games to Africa for the first time, while ensuring it is both innovative and has a legacy.
"The sole focus on Durban 2022 has enabled the Evaluation Commission to undertake a constructive and collaborative, rather than simply comparative, assessment of Durban and South Africa’s inspiring ambition to host the first Commonwealth Games on African soil," she said.
"We have also worked closely with Durban 2022, their public authorities and political leaders to craft the beginnings of an effective and pragmatic delivery partnership.
"We all have much work to do and the CGF’s intention is to follow its strategic directions, as outlined in Transformation 2022, and be an active and value-adding partner to Durban 2022."
Martin was joined on the Evaluation Commission by CGF chief executive, David Grevemberg, as well as Andrew Ryan, executive director of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, Ian Hooper, director of sport and special projects at Glasgow Life, and Maxwell de Silva, secretary general of the Sri Lankan Commonwealth Games Association and National Olympic Committee.
Having held on-site meetings and detailed review workshops with Durban 2022 and its Government and city partners, the five-person Commission commended their desire to contribute to South Africa’s 2030 National Development Plan and its aim to engage citizens through the Games.
The CGF though are requesting a coordination role be set up to deliver effective cross-Government coordination, with a focus on integration of Government and city support for the Games and the assurance of legacy programmes.
Again, the deadline is due to be 180 days after signing the Host City Contract, which will be the same time-frame that Durban 2022 will have to confirm it is able to meet the CGF's Athletes’ Village design requirements.
Despite setting the deadlines, Martin believes that Durban are close to be being on track to deliver a successful Commonwealth Games in 2022.
"We are 95 per cent there, and very close to the finish line," she said.
"We thank our colleagues in Durban and South Africa for their passion, ambition and assurances that many of our comments and requirements will be actioned in time for the vote.
"It is our recommendation that the CGF General Assembly votes to award the 2022 Commonwealth Games to the Host City of Durban, South Africa, but subject to the final and timely delivery of a limited number of outstanding Host City Contract requirements."
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