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  • U.K. Sports Minister Talks Commonwealth Games Bid; Sochi 2014 Aims


    (ATR) Hugh Robertson says the government has ambitions to bring the 2022 Commonwealth Games to London.

    “What we have to do now is detailed work, how to stage it, how much it costs. And we must have discussions with the Commonwealth Games Federation to see if they would welcome a bid from London,” he told a small group of reporters at a briefing hosted by UK Sport at SportAccord.

    With Glasgow staging the 2014 Games and Australia’s Gold Coast hosting in 2018, there are major question marks about whether the CGF would want the Games back in Britain so soon.

    Scotstoun Stadium, venue for athletics during the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. (Getty Images)
    Robertson said praise for the organization of London 2012 had greeted him at every sports gathering since last summer’s successful Olympics.

    “We want to keep that going and the Commonwealth Games is an obvious event we would like to attract in the future,” he said.

    Bringing the 2018 Youth Olympics to Glasgow was the first priority, Robertson emphasized: “We will absolutely give it everything in terms of trying to secure that

    “If I have a worry about it, it’s one decision in quite a cocktail of decisions for the IOC this summer.”

    He added: “Those in sports politics know there are some trade-offs in such situations.”

    He refers to the IOC’s focus on the sports bidding for 2020 and in July, a day before the YOG 2018 vote, the crucial presentations being made by Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo in the race for the 2020 Games .

    “The IOC’s Youth Olympics is still quite a delicate flower. I think it could really benefit from what the U.K. can bring to it in broadcasting and sponsorship etc… to build and bulk it up in a way that few others [countries] could,” he told reporters.

    Nearly one year one from the London Olympics, concerns have been raised over sports participation failing to hit targets.

    But Robertson maintained that the legacy strategy was working, insisting that London had not suffered from an Olympic hangover, an affliction that has hit other host cities, notably Athens.

    “If you look at it in terms of the economy and regeneration of the area around Stratford [east London]… and eight venues have legacy tenants,” he said.

    He said sports participation was up by 1.75 million on the time of the bid and hailed the success of London 2012’s International Inspiration program.

    Rod Carr, who was appointed chairman of UK Sport last month,
    UK Sport Chairman Rod Carr. (ATR)
    told reporters that the elite performance body charged with funding athletes for the Olympics was looking ahead.

    He pointed to record investment of $535 million in British summer sports federations for the Rio 2016 cycle (2013-17). UK Sport is investing more than $20 million in British winter sports for Sochi 2014.

    A slew of major events pepper the UK’s sporting calendar in 2013, notably the London Anniversary Games in July, the Rugby League World Cup and the men’s World Squash Championships. They form part of UK Sport’s Gold Event Series.

    Beyond Glasgow 2014, there are the Rugby World Cup and world championships in canoe slalom and artistic gymnastics.

    Robertson described it as a “very convincing” legacy narrative, “almost the most impressive is this series of major events”.
    Carr said: “Having a constant stream of events, large and important events, coming to the U.K. and London is really important to us.”

    Robertson also commented on the drawn-out saga to find a tenant for the Olympic Stadium, a process characterized by legal disputes and delays before Premier League football club West Ham were confirmed.

    “I am absolutely confident we have the right tenant and that and that the process we have used is the correct one,” he added, claiming the multipurpose stadium ambition with athletics and football at its heart was achieved.

    Hugh Robertson and London 2012 chairman Seb Coe. (ATR)
    On Tuesday, Robertson revealed that he signed a MoU with Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko designed to enhance cooperation over sports affairs and London 2012 legacy between the U.K. and the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics host nation.

    Asked by Around the Rings about U.K.’s preparations for Sochi 2014, Robertson said the British Olympic Association, led by London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe, was “in a really good place at the moment”.

    The BOA would soon benefit from the last chunk of revenues from the London 2012 budget, he confirmed, that combined with new sponsorships and downsizing to reduce costs had made the organization better able to help fund athletes for the Sochi Games.

    Carr told media that he expected around seven Team GB to compete strongly for medals, with the realistic hope that three or four might finish on the podium.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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