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Wales eyes more elite sports facilities as Commonwealth Games bid scrapped

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The Welsh government is drawing up plans to build more elite sports facilities despite conceding defeat in its bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

While delivering the “disappointing” news about the Games, economy and infrastructure secretary Ken Skates fired the starting gun on a wide-ranging review of the nation’s sporting infrastructure with a “view to increasing our spread of world-class venues”.

“Such venues would benefit the local community and the elite athlete, while also increasing our capacity to host major events,” said the Labour minister.

Skates said that despite in-depth feasibility work undertaken to scope out the viability of the Games, its cost – which the government said would have been between £1.32bn (US$1.73bn, €1.58bn) and £1.54bn (US$2bn, €1.84bn) – was too much of a financial commitment, particularly in light of Britain leaving the European Union.

However, Skates’ concerns were queried by secretary of state for Wales, Alun Cairns, who said that despite uncertainties surrounding Brexit the economic benefits of hosting the Commonwealth Games were “vast”.

“Now is the time to pursue the large economic prizes for Wales with the same spirit our footballers showed in the Euro 2016 tournament,” he added. “The announcement today is all the more disappointing when the bid for the Commonwealth Games was only recently included in the manifestos of all political parties in Wales.”

Cairns sentiments were shared by the chiefs of both Sport Wales and Commonwealth Games Wales respectively.

The chair of the latter, Helen Phillips, said that while she was also disappointed she “fully understands the reasons”.

Sport Wales chief executive Sarah Powell added: “Naturally we’re very disappointed at the decision not to bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games. Wales’ performance at the Euros, the recognition this has given Wales globally and the fact that we have a record number of Welsh athletes heading to an away Olympic Games in Rio over the next couple of months is a reminder of what we are capable of as a nation.”

Powell did however welcome the review of elite sporting facilities in Wales.

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The Welsh government is drawing up plans to build more elite sports facilities despite conceding defeat in its bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
SAR
Skates said the facilities review would have a view to increasing Wales' spread of elite sporting venues