Mayor: Commonwealth Games bid unlikely but London can be world's sporting capital
London is set to rule itself out as a replacement host for the 2022 Commonwealth Games after Durban was stripped of the games earlier this week, having failed to meet criteria demanded by the Commonwealth Games Federation.
London was one of several cities, including Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester in England and Melbourne and Perth in Australia, that have been reported to be jostling to replace Durban as host of the games, but Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, has now said that the city has received no approach and that hosting the games is unlikely to be viable without the backing of the UK government.
Khan (pictured) told London’s Evening Standard: “No one has approached me but the key thing is to make sure the sums add up.
“What I don’t want to do is use taxpayers’ money to subsidise an event unless there’s a good business case and unless there’s government support. I’m not sure we’d be bidding as such for it.”
An inquiry is already under way over the cost of converting the city’s Olympic Stadium into a soccer and multi-use stadium in the wake of the 2012 Olympics hosted by London, and Khan said: “I’m looking at the lessons learned from the London Stadium, which is why we’re having this review.
“I’ve got to be straight to Londoners and say no one has approached me about it and, for me, the key is we need to make sure the sums add up for us and there’s a really good reason for us to do it.
“Of course, if someone approaches us we’ll have a look at it. Similarly if the government approaches us we’ll have a look at it. But unless the government chips in I’m not sure how it stacks up for us.”
David Grevemberg, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, told Sportcal earlier this week that the federation is already in talks with potential replacement cities for Durban and expects to announce a new host before Gold Coast in Australia stages the next edition in 2018.Khan also spoke about his plans for the city to host other major sporting events in the near future, including the possibility of London becoming a permanent home to a team from American football’s NFL.
He told the newspaper: “My ambition is for London to be the undisputed sporting capital of the world.”
London has staged at least one NFL game annually since 2007 and will host four matches this year.
In relation to a possible full-time franchise in the city, Khan told ESPN: "I'm optimistic that we'll have eight NFL games a season in London before 2020 and about having a permanent franchise in the near future. There are a couple of teams interested, and we have the stadiums to do it. Not just Wembley and Twickenham, but Tottenham and Chelsea stadiums are being redeveloped."
The NFL has agreed a 10-year deal with English Premier League soccer club Tottenham Hotspur to play at least two matches a season at the club's new stadium in north London, which is scheduled to open in 2018.
On hosting cycling’s Tour de France, Khan told the Evening Standard that he has already held meetings with Tour officials, and argued that the city’s reputation for hosting the event had not been damaged by the former mayor of London Boris Johnson’s decision to reject hosting the Grand Depart, the start of the race, in 2017
He said: “They’re not holding a grudge from what happened last time: they realise that was the previous guy.”
London last hosted the Grand Depart in 2007.